Recent Interventions

Submitted by osobo on April 27, 2010

May Days, Palestine and the material base

Recently in the pages of Freedom, the British anarchist fortnightly journal, there have been a few words said about the recent anarchist May Day organisation in London. L. and P. M. write: "...a week long farce of radical yoga, face painting, dressing up as clowns, gender awareness spaces and other middle class bullshit... The anarchist movement has been hijacked by middle class radicalism to such аn extent that we ought to ditch it and - when we struggle to reorganise our class [our italics] - deny all contact with it and drive it out of working class areas when it appears. It's usually the avant garde of gentrification anyway." Elsewhere, Nick S, lead writer for Freedom, has been expressing his anti-imperialist politics and support for a Palestinian State, noting heroically that "suicide bombings seem 'irrational' from the comfort of the armchair". Freedom also claims to be undergoing a period of re-organisation currently. Our comments below were sent to Freedom, as we explained to them, not as a letter, but as an intervention.

Jour de Fete avec Monsieur Dupont

Our membership application for The Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square Heroic Martyrs' Brigade has been rejected because we didn't pass the male bonding exam - we couldn't name Arsenal's back four and then failed to down a pint in one. What humiliation, now we can never be real revolutionaries.

So, It looks like it boils down to two options, on the one hand it's the clowns and on the other, leftism.

The fault line runs in other directions too, particularly between the minority of all shades of fanatical doers on one side, their little cliques, their pet obsessions, their ultimata over irrelevant issues and their spectacular interventions, then on the other side the quiet majority of Freedom readers who, sheepishly, 'are not really involved.'

We could be wrong but this seems not an ideal state of affairs. The question is often asked: which came first, the egg of non-involvement or the cluck of getting stuck in? But it is likely that the two mutually condition each other, a small band of desperadoes with the stage to themselves and the cameras a-clicking, the very stars of the media sensation and then the rest, rather timidly thinking, 'I couldn't do that, I've got too much to lose and for what exactly, some cause I had no part in formulating?'

We shall say it again, we are very sceptical about 'anti-capitalism', because it mistakes the nature of capitalism and the methods by which it might be overthrown, and this is readily apparent to anyone who attempts to make sense of its claims about green this, ear-that, freedom to smoke something, freedom to wear my hair like I want, down with our exploitation of workers in foreign countries, stop the debt, don't build the dam, etc. In short it has nothing to say about the conditions we live under here and now, the work we must do, crime and criminals, desperate unhappiness at everyday life and how will things change etc.

However, the opposition to anti-capitalism, which may as well be called leftism as it has little to do with free communism, is profoundly unappealing to anyone who has even the basics of human emotion. The sort of 'anarchism' espoused by Nick S and the M's appears to be motivated by a desire to preserve a bullying superiority they have awarded themselves and which is predicated on a class-specific authenticity. They attempt to trump everyone else by talking in judgements and assume that because they claim to speak for the working class everyone will be amazed and subdued because everyone else reading Freedom is middle class, right? Wrong. Not every working class pro-revolutionary expresses themselves in macho propositions, and not all of us need to be talked to in a 'language we can understand,' which surely ranks as one of the most elitist and alienated of revolutionary presumptions.

The working class is not a cultural entity and nor is it a 'community', maybe it was once when everyone from the same street worked in the same mill but nowadays it just isn't like that, and the passing of the days of 'self-policing' ought not to be lamented. The working class is not what Nick S, the M's and all the hard bastard posturers up to their necks in the one-upmanship of small pond politics, represent it to be: the swaggering gangs of youths who dominate our housing estates are not significant, their delinquency is managed and contained as a form of policing of others, just as what the M's have to say about what does and does not constitute class politics is a form of religious policing. The working class could never do soft things like yoga or face painting because every single one of them drinks beer and watches football. The working class are always young men who steal cars, call women bitches (no gender awareness classes for them, eh M's?) and deal drugs.

It is plain that someone has got to step in and quieten the machismo, so here's our go.

The working class is not a political, social, cultural or ethnic category, it is, quite simply an economic function. Away from the factory those who are employed by capitalism find many different forms of entertainment and cultural expression none of which has any kind of relevance to their economic status (for example on our [council] road there are more ostentatious Jag drivers than on a typical, sensible middle class cul-de-sac). It is the proletariat's fabulous array of cultural activities which obstructs the likes of Nick S. and his left-issue politics from ever reaching them, they simply do not speak the same language, and no amount of pressing the rough 'n' tough button on the sociological theory machine will entice them into a 'revolutionary' world view; they've got religion, netball, gardening, art classes and the internet, why should they convert?

What is important about the working class is not their sports clothing, nor the music they listen to but precisely their working existence.

We, for one, do not think revolution can or will be made by street fighting youths who riot because the police have raided their stolen property racket, on the contrary we think it will be made by men and women who have mortgages, own cars, go on holiday, watch telly, never think about politics: literally those people who would rather do anything than further the revolution, and above all fiercely preserve their personal best self-interest under present conditions (and this includes buying their council house).

We find ordinary struggle in everyday life much more interesting and significant than any amount of extreme political action because our theory asserts that those who fight for themselves to preserve what they've got and for what they want are more likely to induce a crisis in capital than any named political action by others which at most might cause a transfer of power but otherwise merely let's a little steam out of the system. But how are these ordinary people to stage a revolution if they don't even have political consciousness?

Politicised solidarity as the left rhapsodise over it and presume its ever glimmering presence in the working class, like gold in the soul, is a sentimental lie and an ideology. However, class interest does exist as a second nature and it is an active force in society. Individuals see the world from their own perspective and fight for the improvement of their own lives, that is quite appropriate, but individuals are mass produced by society and organised into classes, people in the working class understand they won't get anything themselves unless everyone else gets it too. The collective, single-minded pursuit of improved conditions and pay by the working class is precisely the cost that capitalism cannot afford, which is why it has globalised its search for lower wages. Labour costs are what bring companies down and a militant working class that fights to increase its share and therefore increases that cost of production is the only human agency that has the necessary power to halt production and therefore capitalism (that is so long as it pursues its own self-interest and does not become 'politicised' by the left or the unions.) The most revolutionary slogan for this would be: more pay, less hours, no productivity agreements. From this it should be understood that we see the first stage of revolution, which we call economic crisis and which results in the working class taking over industry as an unconscious or unforeseen event, an accident, an unplanned outcome. For busy people like Nick S. the revolution will be made by acts and the motivation for the acts will be anger expressed at present conditions. We do not agree, we see revolution beginning in a structural deficiency of the ruling order and this possibly brought on, or at least exacerbated, by the blind greed of the working class pursuing their own self-improvement.

Why should we, soft intellectuals that we are, argue that the working class and not a one plus one collectivity of committed activists is the most revolutionary form?

For a couple of reasons. Capitalist generates both revolutionary ideas and the working class but capital is not made of ideas it is a social relation based on forced exploitation. It follows that because it is a force itself that only force will bring it down, but which force? Most revolutionaries argue for a 'conscious' agency, that is a grouping of people who have been persuaded of certain values and have joined together to impose them. This seems very unlikely to Monsieur Dupont because no two people can really agree on ideas particularly in the revolutionary movement which has had two hundred years to get its ideas across and is now further away from achieving them than ever; also because propaganda is inherently elitist, the small group (middle class spirit) talking to the mass (smelly, ignorant body), forever seeking to correct, lead and condemn (if someone prefers ballet to wrestling they must have, in the words of the M's, have come into 'contact' with the middle class, and yet both these and all other cultural forms are owned by the same bourgeoisie - the politically correct Labour Party is as happy to receive funds from the publishers of pornography as it is from trade unions; money is money, culture is a commodity and the only differences are the target audiences.

It is our experience that the working class are in advance of the revolutionary movement in terms of understanding how capitalism works no matter what their party political opinions might be. However it is not the opinions of the working class that are of interest but their integration into the productive machine, only they have the necessary access to stop it, and let us be quite clear here, capital accumulation can only be stopped when its machines are stopped and the only people who can stop them (aside from the capitalists themselves) are those operating them. Of course if the working class is the only revolutionary agency to bring a crisis to capital (and it is possible that they may never do this, that there will never be revolution, we must include possible failure into our model) and they will be moved to do this not by revolutionary rhetoric but in pursuit of their selfish interest, then there must be more to revolution than that.

What we have so far sketched in is the dictatorship of a small section of the proletariat over vital industry (taking over a cake shop won't bring the system down), but the crisis of ownership is not a revolution and this is where (what we call) pro-revolutionaries come in. The fall of the machines into the hands of the workers produces a contradiction and a second crisis, working class ownership is simply impossible, workers cannot own, so the situation comes to another crisis. The choice is plain: to progress with the communist, pro-human revolution; or to allow the bourgeoisie back into power, probably in the guise of a revolutionary political party. The moment for the application of revolutionary ideas occurs during the proletarian dictatorship, it is then that people will begin to look collectively for 'alternatives' as a way of getting out and this is the moment when pro-revolutionary ideas will have most effect. People look for alternatives at other times as well of course during the crisis of their own lives but whatever it is that gets them through, whether its radical yoga, pro-revolutionary politics, beer, or racism and whether these solutions are effective or not on a personal scale, none of them will have any bearing on capitalist social relations, because these experiments are determined by and contained within those relations.

The working class has two functions, the first, and the reason why it was created, is to labour for the capitalist class and produce the world for it; the second function is its revolutionary potential which belongs to it purely because of its integration into the productive economy. In terms of revolutionary function the working class cause is to abolish itself and therefore all classes because of the self-contradiction inherent to its collective ownership of production, this second crisis wilt be brought on by the pro-human communist revolution which will be a creative intervention on how society will be made without capital. We make the point about the working class abolishing itself because many leftists tend to idolise the proletariat as an end in itself, as if there is something worthwhile or desirable in being working class. This is ridiculous, there is no such thing as working class culture, and there is nothing worth preserving from life in the backstreets and tower blocks, post-revolutionary society should be the very opposite of the surviving of exploitation, which has always been the proletarian mode of existence. To be 'against' gentrification as the M's are, that is, being in favour of slums, makes no sense, it is natural to want to get away from where you live for somewhere better, and only revolutionary martyrs want to preserve degradation, presumably as a springboard for their outrage. The working class is the means, it is not the end.

It is appropriate at this moment for Monsieur Dupont to pick up certain leftist 'alternatives' and values as espoused by Nick S. in his pro-Palestine piece because again the either/or of his argument is quite false and we think indicates in this particular a more general theoretical malaise as anarchists continue to get sucked into leftism through their 'success' on anti-capitalist demonstrations. We take from NS.'s argument several propositions which we intend to demonstrate are at odds with free communist theory. He claims Palestinian 'self-determination is a legitimate, democratic demand,' legitimate is a rhetorically loaded word, democratic is a problematic concept because Monsieur Dupont's free communist definition of democracy is: the institution of all political opinions that do not effect the ownership of the production of reality, ie all those opinions that are structurally incapable of changing the conditions that have determined them. Self-determination is an anti-imperialist aspiration that depends upon the idea of one state being the proletariat of another state, it is a concept of victimisation which studiously ignores local tyranny or explains it as a natural response to external tyranny. Anti-statist communists consider all forms of nationalism and representative politics set up in terms of religion, ethnic identity, a People, or the oppressed nation to be false and designed to obscure the capital accumulation being carried out by nascent bourgeois factions in the liberation movement which they use to promote their economic self-interest. Put simply, the leaders of Hamas do not carry out suicide bombings, and we can see from the examples of the IRA and ANC how mafia style operations are hidden behind revolutionary pretence until the appropriate moment for butterfly-like emergence to full respectable bourgeois status, and accession to ownership of a sector of production. In all political transfers of power the position of the proletariat remains unchanged.

The Israeli working class is as proletarian as the Palestinian working class, therefore it is obvious that there is no side to take in this battle except to promote variants on the anti-bolshevik slogan which for the Palestinians would read: the struggle against Israel begins with the struggle against Palestine; and for the Israeli's: the struggle against Palestine begins with the struggle against Israel. Even this formulation is flawed and we are sceptical about it, but we make it to build bridges wrth the conventions of this milieu, at least it's a counter to nationalism.

We must first oppose the bosses we work for, the state we live within, at this we are not very effective so there is no point in exporting our useless solidarity to other countries. To us it is irrational to be against our state and for a foreign one, (and suicide bombings, Nick S., are not 'irrational', they are criminal, and we make this pronouncement from our armchairs toasting crumpets by the fire. Presumably Palestinians are too revolutionary to sit in armchairs). Nick S. does not give an account of how Hamas view 'adulterous' women, or homosexuals, but these are secondary issues no doubt when compared to building the happy Palestinian state.

He then goes on to quote the imbecile Sartre about how we are human beings at the expense of those in the third world. This is another classic anti-imperialist line, it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with moral manipulation. In fact, none of us is responsible for what is happening in Israel, any more than we are responsible for what happens in our own country, the very fact that we are pro-revolutionary is proof that we have no power. Sartre was a pro-Stalin CP fellow traveller who consistently condemned the 'imperialism' of France whilst ignoring that of Russia in Hungary etc. Sartre's and the rest of the left’s support for the murderous FLN is useful to us because it shows them up for what they really were, it can also be said of the left in Britain at present: anti-BNP-internationalist at home but patriotic for other people abroad, collectivities of foreigners are called 'peoples' but what are we? We note that in the report on the Belper Green Fair that the 'community choir’ sang Spanish, Mexican and South African songs (what no Eskimo ditties). No wonder the working class in Britain want nothing to do with anti-imperialist 'revolutionaries.'

It may appear from this that we don't think much of macho class struggle menaces and it is true that we love them as much as they like Walter Softies like us but the question we would ask them in a spirit of comradely solidarity is: why is it that nobody listens to you, why have you made no progress, why are you not recruiting amongst the working class? Why has revolutionary consciousness not been transmitted? Why are anarchists and the like such failures?

The fact is that all anarchist types, no matter what their variation, form a relatively numerically small and culturally restricted group of bohemians. It is important for us to face up to the fact that even the most working class anarchist is 'different' from his fellow workers. We must understand that we are different and we see things differently from everyone else, we will never be more than a minority and should scale our ambitions and tailor our actions to fit that reality, what we should retain as our objective is the revolution not 'the movement.'

It follows that if fighting for your own self interest is the basis of revolutionary activity and that the working class is already organised by capital into the appropriate formations for fighting for themselves then that leaves a very limited role for social 'revolutionaries' and certainly eclipses the role espoused by the glum M's and Nick S (namely, the role of organiser and bringer of ideas) which is shown by circumstance to be superfluous and verges on a leaderless Leninism.

So, what do pro-revolutionaries do in the present if they are useless at expressing solidarity and organising the proletariat? We think the first impulse should always be to do nothing, to watch the turning of the world and keep our powder dry. For those who wish to be activists we recommend that they take jobs under industrial conditions, not to lead the struggle because the struggle will find them out soon enough, but to participate as ordinary workers in the only possible means of properly engaging capital, and see how things really stand (for most present day revolutionaries it is inconceivable that the most important place in the world could be a factory in a provincial town, but it is from out of these factories that the world is built). We also advocate the negative role of opposing false revolutionaries, those who would seek leadership and those who mystify the struggle by adding secondary political issues to it. We would advocate the maintenance and production of pro-revolutionary consciousness, not to 'go to the people' as this can only fail, 'the people' will never read revolutionary literature, but it is important to preserve and renew ideas for ourselves and for the moment when they will be significant for a wider audience. We would advocate 'being yourself,' being honest, living your own life as best you can, that is, to move in the opposite direction of those public school boys who currently dominate the anarchist movement (allegedly) who dumb themselves down and leave their comfortable life to live in Brighton squats. Be the revolutionary in your own town. It is important to get on with living and not be tempted to become the revolutionary hero, the martyr for the cause, imagining that you could make a difference is the ultimate self-delusion. We would advise everyone to be ready for a long wait, to have no great expectations, to be ready for failure and to keep going for decades. Most of all, and in contradiction to both the optimism of the anti-capitalists and the moral injunctions of Nick S., we would recommend most of all to do nothing (much) and for inspiration for this we take Tolstoy's account of the military defeat of Napoleon in 1812.

None of this sounds particularly revolutionary and it is true that it isn't. It is our opinion that revolution will be finally achieved by many millions of people making small gestures towards a communistic society, it is our opinion that revolution is not the extreme acts of a few thousand hard core militants. We understand that what we have said will make the potential Che Guevara's reading this hate us. We admit to a slight buffoonishness, we are also dumb clowns, we're fire-eaters, jugglers extraordinaire, tumblers, bare back riders and contortionists, we're too intellectual, we're wreckers, nihilists and whatever other bouquets of praise you can think of but that's ok because we do not claim to be revolutionaries, we are merely pro-revolutionary and take part in events to no greater degree than our individuality allows. Not for us participation in such revolutionary acts as slitting teenage girls' throats for failure to observe the veil, not for us the bombing of workers' buses and ice cream parlours, not for us the machine gunning of teenagers; we are neither heroes nor martyrs and we have been thinking for a while now that the values of the anti-imperialist revolutionary movement leave a nasty taste. Isn't it time the anarchist milieu stopped banging the stupid drum and acting as recruiting sergeants for the fronts and causes of leftism? On the back of the Mayday efforts people like Monbiot, Benn, The Ecologist editor. Globalise Resistance etc use the platform to sell themselves. In practical terms surely it wouldn't take too much for a few media studies students in the Mayday group to make their presence felt in the news, they wouldn't have to explain anything, just shut the other tossers up - if this is beyond them then wouldn't rt be better to do nothing, so as not to encourage trade unions, trotskyist parties, greens, religious practitioners etc? After four years of anti-capitalism Globalise Resistance can get ten thousand out on to the streets whilst the anarchists manage only three thousand, this bleeding away of recruits could be seen as a good thing, those who are lost are probably useless but they then become active in counterrevolutionary groups like the SWP which is probably irrelevant at present but under critical circumstances is a very bad thing.

Isn't it time to escape all these causes, issues and political opinions and get, quite literally, down to the base?

Finally, we would just like to say that we think the pro-revolutionary movement is full of people who would smear shit in your face. And that much of what is said is hypocrisy and much of what goes on is a racket. We understand that those who dominate the scene are emotionally incontinent and put others off from speaking up because of the fear of personal attack. So, knowing from past experience what to expect from our 'comrades' and how people will not come to our defence for fear of breaking ranks, even though in private conversation there are those who do express agreement, it is important to give some explanation of ourselves. Monsieur Dupont is made up of two persons who use this identity in our political and creative activities. Our perspective can be summed up very briefly: nothing is outside the question of ownership. In practice we try to conduct ourselves with honesty and rationality, we have no racket to hide and try to keep our 'political' opinions completely separated from our family lives. We would never recommend anyone do anything that we were not prepared to do, we accept that some people may think more extreme measures are appropriate at certain times but we do not accept the moral pressure they bring to bear when insisting that others do likewise. We do not wish to make contact with anyone and we certainly have no recruiting intentions, we will send texts to people who contact us at our address and we would like to encourage others in the task of theoretical development of the ideas we have articulated, this is a task which we now feel almost too weary to continue with. We gained our insights into the revolutionary struggle by theoretical reflection on our past experiences as workers, specifically as postmen, and at all times we prioritise experience over political beliefs. We have operated as communists within the anarchist milieu for more than several years. We are not academics or students and have no contact with any educational or bourgeois institution. We do not presume to speak for the working class, or for revolution, we make no great exhortations. We speak for ourselves in favour of the free communist revolution.

We hear a lot of condemnation from the left of each other as if the very devil had made itself flesh, and we also hear plenty of unquestioning praise for foreign causes like that of the Zapatistas, we see both of these as mere moralising. We've attracted our fair share of vilification and misrepresentation but we think things are at the stage now where it is time to see who's who both abroad and at home: it is important to know who is talking and for whom and why and for those making claims to be ready to discuss them and not simply resort to denunciation. For example, as the main theoretician of Freedom Nick S. has a considerable influence on the anarchist movement so we are interested to know (not his identity) but a verbatim statement of his values and the end to which he is working. Whether, for example, his ideas are tending towards some sort of base-up trotskyism along the lines of Red Action, and also how he thinks he can square the ideology of anti-imperialism with class analysis anarchism (we notice he is very reluctant to use the word anarchist and talks either of 'the left' or 'the anti-capitalists') as Freedom is undergoing a transformation at present it would be useful to clarify certain perspectives.

That's all we have to say so, if the M's are quite ready, they may drive us out now.

Doing nothing,
Monsieur Dupont
June 2002


The Ticklish Matter
We present the texts below because the arguments contained within them are timeless. We hope you will endeavour to read them thoughtfully and thoroughly, what have you got to lose?

Article from Freedom, British anarchist fortnightly, June 15 2002:

"What's wrong with Freedom"

In the next few issues, we're [Freedom] going to print a variety of reflections on Freedom. We hope that, by encouraging a discussion of what the paper is and should become, we can make it an even more useful resource for the anarchist movement as a whole [editorial comment].

Improving Freedom? Given the usual high level of criticism instead of constructive analysis in the paper, I'm loath to add to it. But here goes. I, and many other people of all ages and backgrounds active in the anarchist movement, find this newspaper to he dogmatic, insular, vanguardist and ultimately alienating. And we're on side.

I'm aware that people writing for Freedom aren't professional journalists and that good, mass communication based on hierarchical professionalism is what we want to avoid. But still, for a newspaper there's very little news to be found in it. There's a lack of sharp, energetic analysis of What's Happening Now, domestically and internationally. Recycled critique and personal opinion dominate articles and features rather than a fresh, informative analysis. Readers are spoon-fed viewpoints rather than given facts and insights they can really sink their teeth into and which can catalyse individual theory and organic forming of opinion.

What's needed is investigative journalism, new slants, new perspectives, stories which genuinely cultivate a new understanding - not by convincing the reader of the value or veracity of anarchist politics and organisation through doctrine, but through shedding light on history and struggle as they're happening.

Information has always been ammunition for action and self-created theory. It's never neutral, but that's exactly the point - it's genuinely anarchist, in my opinion, to show rather than tell, to stimulate and inspire through arming the reader with as much information and insight and historical context as possible on struggle, capital, ecocide and eco-defence, and new topographies of class, in order to grow new libertarian thought organically.

As it is, Freedom reads like a boys-own, old-school establishment paper for a minority of feuding, entrenched 'l-have-the-one-true-faith' anarchists. It's like a tool for them to use in redrawing their sectarian lines of defence. What's being defended is dogma, tradition, and narrow critiques layered upon past critiques layered upon redefined critiques, all in a style of writing that's largely dogmatic and assumes a prior knowledge of anarchist theory and terminology.

Nobody I know has any desire to read Freedom - they've been utterly turned off by it from the word go. And as for drawing in new readers - unaligned, non-activist, non-'anarchist theoretician' - people with a healthy distrust of authority and anti-capitalist, anti-wage labour sentiments? Well, reading Freedom they'd get the feeling that anarchism is a very specific and rigid either-you-understand-it-properly-or-you-don't-and-then-you-can't-be-an-anarchist type of position, rather than a constantly evolving, active approach to organising community and personal life.

We'll never grow as a movement if we just keep navel-gazing and raking over movement-based issues and actions. Recent comments on Mayday from Freedom contributors are just one example. This paper needs to change. It needs more news and less opinion.

Incisive, investigative and passionate information-filled writing empowers people and actually generates more opinion and understanding than a rant or even an eloquent opinion piece ever will. More analysis, less critique, a communicated lust for life, a belief in the reader and a sense of humour - that"s what it needs.

Right now, it's lifeless.

The ticklish matter

Long live facts, news and information. Death to opinion, theory and conjecture.
Hooray for S.N. for adding a pinch of Alice in Wonderland to her otherwise run of the mill gradgrindism: it seems that the new opinion we must all hold in our old heads is to be against opinions, because, as S.N. says, it is our opinions that gets the goat of masses of potential readers who would otherwise be more than pleased to walk our way. Wouldn't it be nice, thinks S.N., if only we'd just shut up for five minutes and let the people ingest their daily requirement of lovely facts?

Or, is S.N.'s thesis merely another opinion that shields by denunciation an ideological commitment to newfangled anti-capitalism which cannot bear critique of its particularist cultural content and basic reformist implication, especially from the likes of infuriating naysayers like MD?

But what exactly is the news that is happening now which the old school is missing and which S.N. thinks so important? What is the theory that assumes 'news' is a more effective farm of writing than, for example, our old-time evangelical witnessing, after all if you read Winstanley you don't get many facts?

To begin, we will list the unsubstantiated assertions in S.N.'s argument, the nuts and bolts of her opinion, to 'show rather than tell' how her argument is really quite similar in form to that which she berates albeit with a slightly different political agenda: 'Catalyse individual theory’, 'new perspectives', 'stories which genuinely cultivate a new understanding', 'information has always been ammunition for action and self-created theory', 'struggle, capital, ecocide, and ecodefence, and new topographies of class, in order to grow new libertarian thought organically*, 'a constantly evolving, active approach to organising community and personal life' (retch) etc etc. All these statements mean something but what exactly? All these concepts have theories attached, theories which S.N. does not articulate but nor does she illustrate them with stories from her own experience, so what are we to make of them when set beside the values she criticises: 'boy's-own, old school establishment', 'Minority, entrenched 'l-have-the-one-true-faith' anarchists', 'sectarian lines of defence', 'dogma, tradition, and narrow critiques layered upon past critiques layered upon redefined critiques', 'all in a style of writing that's largely dogmatic and assumes prior knowledge....' 'Right now, it's lifeless'.

S.N. says people like us are already dead and we probably stink. Yah boo.

The point of our listing her values and anti-values is that we think the new school are remarkably similar to the old school, if not in their specific jargon, then in their urge to denounce and rubbish rivals and in their desire to move in, take over and impose their interpretation. All that she accuses Freedom of can be equally applied both to her and her friends who have 'no desire to read Freedom' ie communicate with anyone who is not identical to themselves. No milieu is more dogmatic than the lusting for life, young new school of anti-capitalists who've recently inflicted themselves upon the world, reinventing action and sweeping away those dusty old anarchists who never do anything but blah blah -hey, you crazy kids, we've got a bit of a bombshell for you, your parents took exactly the same path as you.

We have encountered opinions like those of S.N. every couple of years or so since we began our futile involvement in the pro-rev milieu and we've noticed that they've become' more frequent recently since that milieu has detheorised itself, dumbed down, refused to have dealings with anyone that is not itself, convinced itself it is not a milieu but is really a movement, and desires that all writing about itself should be celebratory {see the dire London 'No War But The Class War’ leaflet issued just after the events in New York of September 11th 2001), ie should be based upon its own newsworthy events and also on selected 'atrocities' of its chosen enemies.

Oh dear, shall we get our coats? Have we been made redundant? Not quite yet, ah, if I can just reach that button on my remote...

S.N., welcome to the hall of mirrors.

Here is the ten o'clock critique of factism, stuntism, specificism and immediatism.

Q. What is the worst thing about a fact?

A. The function of facts is to disguise the generality of social relations; it is presumed by factist 'keep-it-simple', long ball activists that if you pull on a fact, like Ariadne, you will arrive at the general relation of capitalism. They're wrong. If you go against the details of corporations, if you go against the monarchy, if you go against 'ecocide', then you find yourself in 1789 as an anti-imperialist sentimentalist, you do not arrive at a social revolutionary perspective and you have little conception of what capitalism really is. Capitalism cannot be 'exposed' by facts about incidents that occur within its boundaries because capitalism is the general condition of all facts and also of the theory of facts. What you could say is that one fact that is always missed out in any consideration of facts is the fact of social relations, in other words, the ownership and selection of facts is always obscured by their artfully presented self-evidence. This is why factism is so much practiced in Anglo-American university philosophy and politics departments. By every means these institutions refuse to reflect on their own integration into, and determination by, the capitalist base and prefer instead to examine autonomous 'facts' and 'issues' without reference to the relation between facts or of facts to the base. And this is also why 'radical' polftics and their emphasis on the facts of their events and the facts of capitalist extremism is currently espoused in especially weightless towns such as London, Cambridge, Oxford and Brighton because the radicals there can act in the freedom they have bought with their parents absence. Pro-revolutionary factism desires to operate in a bubble of pure issues that are situated in anonymous international cities away from families and without the complication of complicit middle class personal origins; factists, who are really issueists, want to get away from the problematic of their own facts which is why they are always talking about rainforests and South East Asian workers and why they say nothing about the estates and factories in their own towns, n'est-ce pas S.N.?

A2. Aren't facts always the extreme case but isn't life always the banal experience? Facts are fun, facts are in dispute, facts are exciting. But life is dull, living is rubbish, nothing ever happens to me that will get on the news. We are drawn to the disaster of a bus-bombing because we cannot see, and the fact of the bombing does not illuminate, the facts of the shadows of our own lives which are very much: got up, went to work, came home, went to bed. The lie of facts is that they say something is happening when really nothing's changed.

Q. What is the worst thing about news?

A. It is a communications ideology. It assumes that information is significant.

Go tell it to the Chaikovskists. It is all very well going to the people with a feast of facts about Turkish dams, and arms manufacturers and political corruption but what if the peasants run you out of town? People do not respond to news, they do not act on ideas or facts, what they do do in relation to information is respond according to the force that is applied through the information in their lives. Someone sends me a red bill, I must act, it is not the bill that makes me pay but the force behind it. People are not rational in the sense that they weigh up arguments and make decisions on the best ideas but they are rational in the way animals are rational, they act in their own best interest as they perceive it at the time and with the limited powers of their abilities. They respond to the orchestration of news, they cry when this royal dies, they cheer when that team wins but it is not the news that moves them it is the force behind the news, you could say they respond to the amount of capital that has been invested in a message. Imbeciles and anarchists say knowledge is power, but Freud and us say, knowing you're repressed doesn't stop you being repressed. MD's fabulous knowledge of pro-revolutionary history and ideas has not set us free, quite the contrary, it has drawn us into an investigation of why we're still miserable gits and why our beliefs have no significance in the world, why intentional actions always fail, why so many revolutionaries are arses etc etc. Don't the working class already know all the facts they need to know about capitalism? Do they really need the literary equivalent of a spotty student telling them about, sorry, 'showing' them the plight of distant natives, or the revolutionary potential of veganism? The working class know they are being exploited but they are also getting something in return; as things stand their wages are more real than ideas of social change. It's no good telling them things could be otherwise because there's no proof that they could be, and the cost of the struggle against capital must be borne by the workers who have no option but to exist where they are and not by the activists who have chosen the luxury of their struggle. People do not rise up against capital because they lack sufficient facts, they refuse to act, or act as they do act, because that is the best bet as they see it under current conditions. Power is not knowledge, power is power, or put another way, power is force and force is power. Information is only significant if you have the power to acton it, otherwise it is just noise, you tell us America did a bad thing, you say some company uses child labour, too bad and so what? We're just people, we can't change anything, we can't do anything more than anyone else, it is simply beyond us, and so much of the radical press is so 'disempowering' with their offering up of bare-faced facts about bad things happening that makes you want to turn into a reformist (eg., charity worker) to get things done, better not to know anything. The specifics of news always draws a response to the symptoms of capitalism and not capitalism itself as a cause.

The working class bury their heads, that's good, they might see the root of things.

It is not the knowledge a news item brings that is significant but the force it carries behind it. For example the news content in the single word, 'strike' is only a pinpoint but it carries behind it the weight of a thousand gravities and attracts to it the force of many others but it is no good naively calling for a strike, people aren't prepared to risk themselves on something that isn't happening yet. The strike must be the event, the reality that has already happened and continues to happen and to which we must respond. The actions of the anti-capitalists for example and in contrast are not real and therefore call forth no response except within the pro-rev milieu. Only the news of our own destruction is really news, all the rest is nosey-parkerism.

The precondition of revolution is not more information but real events to which the world must respond, and only forces create real events. It is precisely force that we as a milieu do not have, and never will. The working class has force but it acts in response to the capitalist organisation of the world and not to the holy exhortations of unwashed prophets. We are saying here that capitalism, and the working class which is one of capital's ambiguous forces, dictates when and if the revolution will come.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle to receptivity?

A. It is assumed by many in the pro-revolutionary milieu that all they have to do is grow and grow and grow and that people will be added to their movement, one by one. However, after two centuries of socialist agitating this has proved incorrect, on two counts. One, socialist organisations underestimate their own formal determination by capitalist social relations and have been consistently surprised not only by the innate and trademark conservatism of the revolutionary movement but also by their own capacity for tyranny, entrepreneurialism and exploitation. The structure of Freedom for example facilitates a majority readership passivity which comforts itself with a product that is unusual, radical, and alternative but remains essentially a commodity. Freedom also, by the nature of its existence, can only ask 'how can we reform ourselves?' it cannot ask 'are we wrong even to exist?' This counts for double with unreflective publications such as Schnews which are distributed within a highly specified cultural milieu that is itself dominated as a market by radical products such as vegan food, 'underground' music, cannabis etc. Equally, groups such as SolFed, and the Anarchist Federation are predicated on the accumulation of capital for the maintenance of their organisations/publications etc, this in turn is based upon the accumulation of recruits. Then, we see in the underlying structure of S.N.'s solutions to the ever-present aporia of pro-revolutionary activity some basic religious concepts: the idea is that if you show the truth to people they will 'believe' but the question of the ownership of the ideas and facts (that is by middle class pro-revolutionaries) is not reflected upon. S.N. in calling for 'self-created theory', echoes The Life of Brian as Brian is echoed by the crowd of his followers, 'yes we must think for ourselves.' The authoritarian nature of information and propaganda lies precisely in its vague aspiration to universality of message and its angry appeal to readers who do not yet exist and by denouncing the efforts of those already involved. Two, there is a limit to the number of people who can absorb a message that goes against the way things are. Certainly a paper like Freedom can considerably expand its readership but in doing so it may have to adopt even more capitalistic methods and change into something else entirely, but we are sure there are many more people out there who would buy it. However we do not consider this necessarily a good thing. Our aim, for what it's worth, is not to 'build the movement,' nor to 'sell the paper’, it is rather to publicly pursue the truth of our condition and examine the likelihood of its overthrow. We absolutely oppose all forms of movement-patriotism and all movements that function within the spectacular array of movements. For example we see no point in being 'against the monarchy any more than being in favour of football, both are cultural/political forms generated out of the capitalist base of social relations.

What is the milieu to do if it does not seek its own self-expansion? Work it out for yourself but we think that in a world of billions, the matter of a newspaper's circulation, whether of hundreds or thousands, is irrelevant.

The problem raised by S.N. is not one of clarity of message, you can reduce it down to a is for apple and it still won't get through. The problem as S.N. sets it up is not with pro-revolutionaries expressing their opinions but that these opinions are often ugly, authoritarian, elitist and plain wrong, in other words they are complacent and do not sufficiently reflect on themselves. The idea that a simple message is more consumable than a complicated message misses the point on three scores, firstly May 68 shows us that an absolutely dormant proletariat can be radicalised over a few days and not by the established anarchist groups, nor by facts, nor by ideas as such but by events and the ideas of the events. In other words pro-revolutionary ideas are consumable at the moment of revolutionary potential in society: events come first, ideas come second. The second fallacy of the highly theoretical but unreflected-upon concept that we 'must speak to people in a language they understand' is that the manner in which pro-revolutionary ideas work and the way they are formulated is not at all commonsensical or straightforward, in fact none of us knows how to proceed, which if we think about it leaves our pious certainties very exposed. The third point is a stupid and a dumb one, pro-revolutionary theory is complicated especially when it comes to considering the counter-revolutionary implications of avowedly revolutionary groups and strands, each of them has their own dark heart whether they are nationalist, anti-capitalist, Leninist or whatever and to expose this beating heart upon the alter of critique is not an easy thing especially when the true believers refuse to see it.

We are not in a marketplace of ideas, we are not selling our wares in competition with other ideas, we are not prepared to democratically accept another five years of the people's will because a majority disagrees with us. Our aim is the abolition of capitalism (which is not an idea but a force) and its replacement with a fully human free-communism that at the moment exists only as an idea but must one day become a force and perhaps not in accordance with the idea of it. The struggle is not between ideas and competing interpretations of a vortex of facts but over the nature of ownership and the eventual abolition of the imposition of ownership. None of us can produce a formula by which our childish fantasies of reversal and the overcoming of reversal may, like a fairy tale, come true but what we ARE ever so umbly certain of, and what we propose all pro-revolutionaries should learn, is that it is not revolutionaries that make revolutions. What revolutionaries do is maintain the pro-revolutionary milieu by means of gossip, controversy, rivalry and critique, this may be a good thing as it preserves and perfects certain important ideas or it may be a bad thing because the milieu acts as a spectacular force that consistently politicises and therefore de-natures direct class struggle. There is a limit to those who may achieve pro-revolutionary consciousness, the question then becomes, if we drop the idea of talking to everyone, what are we going to do afterwards?

As an alternative to either factistical journalism or academic games of marbles we propose the creation of theories that are taken from personal experience and pursued with an open and honest attitude. For example this piece is written from the perspective a dependent on a NHS wage under the guaranteed minimum income scheme, we have sunshine caught in our curtains and we're looking out of a window onto various neighbours who live on this particular council estate. Too many facts? Well of course we leave out banal personal experiences, our previous pro-revolutionary activities, our personal relations and so on but these are not relevant to this particular argument. But what is important to the question of 'how to do propaganda' is what is present on this street because it is typical of every working class residential district and beyond that into every workplace. People here are neither interested in facts nor in opinions and how could they be when there is so much information buzzing in their head? The average proletarian absorbs six hundred times more pieces of information per day than the average peasant did in a year in The Middle Ages (made up statistic), so how is that person going to distinguish between the significance of one message above another? The fact is that they have other things on their minds, joy, worry, hope, dread, work, TV, love, neighbours, those strange Monsieur Duponts looking out of a window at them, there's junkie squatters down the road, a spate of trashed stolen cars, the local paedophile, then there are drugs: cannabis, heroin, proscription anti-depressants, sleeping tablets buzzing in people's heads, then there is Islam, then there is football, then there are holidays. Isn't that enough facts for anyone, isn't personal experience of capitalism factitious enough? What do we need to know about the facts in Mexico or of some 'anarchist' avant garde stunt? So many chemicals and issues in people's heads and so tiny a space for thoughts of revolution, a revolution which will probably not come true and what kind of person would think of that instead of holidays? After all holidays will come true, that is if you can get the loan.

We look out at people on our street, we talk to mums and shop assistants, postmen, neighbours, passengers on the bus, we pass people in the shopping arcade and all of them, just like the friends of S.N., do not read Freedom and no matter how it is reorganised they will never read it but their revolutionary potential or lack of it is unchanged, how can this be?

Again, we say that, people will address the question of revolution when the revolution means the binmen have not turned up, there's rationing, there's roadblocks on the motorways, the railway workers are on strike, they haven't had post for a month and the stock exchange is in freefall (whatever that means). People think about solutions to problems that are in their faces right now, if you don't HAVE to think about the character of a workers' council then why do it? Well, pro-revolutionaries have to think about it because it is up to us to intervene when potentially revolutionary events get re-routed back to capitalist forms but nobody else needs bother themselves and nor will they. It is in the revolutionary period that pro-revolutionaries can make a decisive intervention, and push forwards revolutionary 'opinions'. Like those seeds in the desert or the eclipse horizon, the moment for our usefulness is very short.

The funny thing about pro-revolutionary ideas is how difficult it is to formulate them in the unrevolutionary moment but how easy it is to live them when events allow.

Finally, the easy question of the function of Freedom, and oh how many years it had to wait to want to change. We suggest that it seeks circulation decline by demanding from every one of its subscribers a critique of one aspect of it's content. By refusing to appeal to the general public in terms of sales it will, perversely, have much greater indirect impact in the public sphere, but then is it the ideas that matter or the selling of the ideas? Whatever, let it not be a return to tight-arsed factism, what could be more horrid and bourgeois than a thoroughly useful article full of information designed to (urk) empower its readers, when what we all really want is boozy flights of rhetorical controversy and good old fashioned dirty-booted theory. Let's keep it the old-boys club, eh mates?

We formulate it thus, the new Freedom should become an ideas-stallion that services the broodmares of it readers' minds, and in the passage of time each of them will bring forth a Pegasus foal from out the top of their heads.

One fact we have learnt that was taught us by our children, and it has some metaphorical resonance here we think: if you pitch your tent someone else will find its warm, soft, darkness just the right place to fart in, so we're sorry S.N. for the stink but we'd like to thank you all the same, for giving us the chance to go through our now routine nihilistic free-associations based on this occasion upon your argument. You say information is ammunition (nice), we say we've fired your rocket into outer space and in leaving you all, we'd just like to add in a Brel style,
au suivant,

Monsieur Dupont
June 2002


Below are two replies we sent to the journal Red and Black Notes (Toronto) on the question of the concept of the real movement'. Here, as an appetiser, are three signposts showing the path bywhich a particular kind of faith and mysticism has been embedded into far left political perspective:

"Communism is not an ideal to be realized: it already exists, not as a society, but as an effort, a task to prepare for. It is a movement which tries to abolish the conditions of life determined by wage labour, and it will abolish them by revolution". G. Dauve and F. Martin, The Eclipse and Re-Emergence of the Communist Movement'

"Communism is inevitable, it is as though it has already happened." Amadeo Bordiga.

"Communism is necessary." Various and ubiquitous.

Reply to "The Real Movement" (Red and Black Notes, Toronto, 2002)

It is difficult to reply to your article because it doesn't really get anywhere. At one point in the article you say: "Yet, all of this begs the question of what exactly is the real movement?" But you fail to arrive at any sort of real conclusion, even though you have already stated what Marx and Engels thought and already described their thoughts as "clear". (For the record, we don't think Marx and Engels were very clear on the issue of how a revolution that might overthrow capitalism could develop. Look at this example (also from The German Ideology, where the term "real movement" is used): "Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew". What does Marx mean here by "movement", by "practical movement", by "the cause", by "revolution"? Is "the movement" the actual physical revolution (seizing the means of production), or is "the revolution" a continuing accumulation of acts of revolt (a "real movement") wherein mass communist consciousness is formed? Or is he talking about something else entirely? Don't try to answer these questions. The point of asking them is not to encourage further interpretations of the Works of Marx, but to indicate where the limits of his theory, logic and explanation lie. We do not need to "go back to Marx" to examine the concept of "the real movement", we can look at ourselves and the world around us to see if this marries up to what present day ideologues of "the real movement" are trying to tell us. In so doing we will be examining the way communists generally see themselves.)

One problem with your article is that you haven't looked at what the word "movement" really means, such an examination is surely the first criteria for your article? When we look at various activities that are going on around us that are related to the working class and its inherent opposition to the economic system do we see a movement? Do we see a real movement that is heading in the direction of the overthrow of capital? Marx also described upheavals of the working class as "convulsions", were these convulsions part of a real, continuous movement, or unconnected spasms, connected, of course, by the fact that they were brought on by the same conditions? The article ends with this vague, and meaningless statement, that also implies that the whole debate is a waste of time anyway: "We end by concluding [sic] that the resistance to capital must be the prerogative of those who struggle against it". It seems that the main angle of the writer of the article is to continue a refutation of Leninist and Trotskyist notions of Party vanguardism. Unfortunately, the writer does not seem to sense the possible vanguardism, despite our previous correspondence, that lies inside the concept of "the real movement" itself. Below are some partial thoughts on the subject.

You say that capitalism has produced its own gravedigger in the form of the proletariat. But you don't say why this is. Why is the proletariat any more the gravedigger of capitalism than the slaves were the gravediggers of Ancient Greek society? What is the difference between the worid today and the world before capitalism?

You make some linking of the proletariat with class struggle (ie, its role as the revolutionary subject) in your web page introduction as printed in the last issue, here you say to look for class struggle in "strike figures, wildcats, sabotage" but then you abandon the direct link of the proletariat with economic production by continuing with, "and above all resistance to capitalism in ail its forms" (my italics). Here we have left the realm of the working class and entered the world of political movements, single issues, and most importantly, the heart of capitalist economics: resistance to capitalism comes mainly from capitalists themselves and ideologues of capitalism. Every corner shop resists the onslaught of capitalism, every big firm resists the onslaught of rival capitalist firms. The ideological basis of capitalism is democracy, which is another word for competition. Globalisation and anti-globalisation is the latest public arena in which capitalism is testing itself, checking horizons and re-formulating strategies.

But what is the proletariat anyway? Academics, sociologists, and communists and anarchists usually only help to confuse matters.

We, at Monsieur Dupont, aim for a simplicity that is strategic and tactical in analysis, since definitions of the proletariat/working class that are ideological or cultural have never had any use but to mystify (protect) capitalism. We would say that the relevant part of the working class, for an analysis of how a revolution might come about, is that section which works in industries without which the economy would stop functioning (Marx called the proletariat: those workers who work in big industry). They are relevant not because they have some sort of working class "cultural identity" (all cultural identifications help mystify the true nature of society) but simply because when they are at work they have in their hands the levers of production, the mechanisms whereby capitalism can continue to function. How it comes to pass that these workers stop production is entirety out of the hands of those who would call themselves "revolutionaries" (we prefer the term pro-revolutionary, since the description "revolutionary" bestows on the holder of the title an expertise all out of proportion with reality - since there has never been a revolution that has got rid of capitalism how can anyone be an expert on it?). As Paul Mattick has said, "Thus far, [...] revolutionary actions have occurred only in connection with social catastrophe, such as were released by lost wars and the associated economic dislocations. This does not mean that such situations are an absolute pre-condition for revolution, but it indicates the extent of social disintegration that precedes revolutionary upheavals". There will be no movement created that will destroy capitalism. Capitalism will only flounder under the incompetence of its directors and managers, when a situation might emerge in which workers are forced into certain acts, and, in particular, when those workers who work in the essential industries are forced to stop production, thereby halting the capitalist process; thereby creating the possibility for a new material basis of living to assert itself.

We would agree with Marx that capitalism creates the grounds for its own removal not because of any (mystical) "necessity" or "movement of the class towards {...] self-actualisation" [?] as you (Marx also talks about communist revolution in terms of "necessity") would have it, but simply because capitalism is a global condition. In antiquity it was possible for people to live in different ways across the globe but only to a certain extent due to the limited technologies of the time, these days there is the possibility, due to advanced technology, for everyone to live comfortably, but the economic system prevents this. In antiquity any successful revolt of people from oppression would eventually be brought down by the imperatives of survival. These days there is no possibility of any revolt, of any people, escaping capitalism, there is nowhere to go, and nowhere to stay. Any direct opposition to capitalism (seizing its productive apparatus) is always forced to expand into a global phenomenon, if revolt fails to do what it must then it is quickly brought right back into the capitalist arena (we see this truth in every strike, and in every revolutionary event in recent history). This is what the proletarians of Russia in 1917, and beyond, knew instinctively, what they knew in Germany in 1919, what they knew in Spain in 1936, ETC. It is also what the "revolutionary" leaders knew of course. All of this explains why, at some point early on during all these events, the workers started giving up, going home, and they allowed "their leaders" to try to get into power under capitalist/anti-working class terms.

Back to "the real movement". Capitalism is an economic system that relies on certain industries (these rise and fall in. their importance over time) to keep it functioning. Now, these industries, which make, dig, extract, build, distribute, all, at their base, rely on the work of supervised workers. In times of economic crisis these workers might feel forced to take over their workplaces as a collectivity (thus disrupting the reality and continuation of capitalism; creating a new material base), and, in their making of connections to other workers and other parts of the working class (which tactics their revolt forces on them), they may establish a new way of living. But this new way of living cannot be established, or planned, before the old way of living (capital accumulation) is stopped. The ruling ideas of society are the ideas of the ruling class, to put it another way, there is no possibility of a new way of thinking arising before the material basis for it has been established. Who, amongst the readers of this magazine, really thinks that a movement is needed before capitalism will be halted? Yes, we thought as much, all of you no less. Does history count for nothing? Everywhere in the pro-revolutionary milieu we see aspirant midwives for communism, self-proclaimed experts who insist on putting their ideological cart before the horse of material events. The problem we see with the concept of "the real movement" is that it is another ideological trick by which pro-revolutionaries can trumpet their sense of self-importance and their ownership of understanding, the leadership role which they refuse to give up. The British group Aufheben use the concept in the most explicit, and authoritarian, way they say, "The real movement must always be open, self-critical, prepared to identify, limits to its present practice and to overcome them" (Aufheben 9, 2000). Here Aufheben have gone beyond merely looking for connections between events and given the concept a personality and suit of clothes, that is, they have themselves actually become "the real movement". The gods have put themselves in heaven. Marx was vague about this concept that he coined, he himself cast about uncertainly for "signs of resistance" like many others do now, and we will never know whether he understood the kind of use that the term might be put to.

In Dauve and Martin's Eclipse and Re-Emergence... it says, "Communism is not an ideal to be realized: it already exists, not as a society, but as an effort, a task to prepare for. it is a movement which tries to abolish the conditions of life determined by wage labour, and it will abolish them by revolution". Here communism, or "the real movement", is clearly described as "an effort, a task to prepare for". This, plus the use of the term "movement" would imply that it is the continuous accumulation of certain acts that will bring us to the revolution. Of course once such a (flawed — see below) prognosis has been accepted then it is up to the experts to identify which acts are to be considered worthy. It would seem that we have replaced the notion of The Party of the Working Class as the holder of truth and understanding with the notion that the politicised element (the communists) of the "real movement" now hold understanding. Thus the "historic mission" of "revolutionaries" is not damaged at all. "Revolutionaries" are still the experts, despite their history of failure and betrayal. We are stuck at about 1860, we are still in the period of anti-tsarist populism, communists have not escaped Lenin (who was not a disciple of Marx but an anti-tsarist populist, and finally an agent of the German State, if Germany hadn't used him he would not be mentioned or remembered by communists). When they are pushed, communists always go back to what Lenin said (as R&B Notes did), because he "won" ("Lenin [is] perhaps more than any other person, responsible for the course of twentieth century history", R&B Notes, - by the way, what happened to the materialist conception of history?). The owners of understanding (the modern, friendly face of the old-style Party) can display some interesting characteristics, characteristics that are no different from those of the old Leninist Parties, take this threat from Aufheben: "Our interest in the struggle in Mexico is how it expresses the universal movement towards the supersession of the capitalist mode of production. One needs to avoid acting as judge of every manifestation of this universal movement, dismissing those manifestations which don't measure up, while at the same time avoiding uncritical prostration before such expression" (Aufheben 9, 2000). This is from an article that championed the movement of the Zapatistas and criticised the views of people they termed "ultra-leftists" on the matter. At first glance what they say above might seem reasonable, until one realises that to ask people not to "judge every manifestation of this universal movement" is, in fact, their bullying defence of their own judgement of events in Mexico. Where is the intelligence here? Where is the self-reflection?

The concept of the real movement and communists self-employed status as the holders-on to consciousness, the performers of understanding of the movement is grounded in an ideology of inter-subjectivity. (Aufheben again: "Our task is to understand, and to be consciously part of something which already truly exists - the real movement that seeks to abolish the existing conditions.") Communism for the understanders is made of acts. But we understand from the works of charity that inter-subjective acts, no matter how profoundly good intentioned and no matter how many thousands or even millions might be involved, address on)y surface phenomena of society and not the structural causes - acts at their best, can only ever achieve a status of a political intransigence, but always trapped by conditions. There is no means by which a symptom may turn on and attack its cause, puppets cannot cut their strings. Fi Fie Fo Fum, an Englishman cannot be anti-English, as many are, of course, without expressing one of the possible forms of Englishness. Communism cannot be itself in an ideological form, that is, as a current, or movement of political values and acts acting in present conditions without being wholly determined by conditions, which in an almost unanimous majority are capitalist (how infinitesimal, how like the mustard seed, is the negative moment). Communism, breaking out right now, is a variant of capitalism. It is precisely because communism is absent, is in a future, that we search for it. Search for it but do not work for it, there is no proof that acts or works, that teaspoon paddling against the current, makes our desire more possible. In the dingy bars where we hold our meetings, communism is always not here. To say, as we do, do nothing, is only an admittance of the difference between structure and perception. The cup of the world is not shaped by many people talking to each other, rather the world is a cup that holds many people talking to each other. Structure precedes acts. This is not to say: do nothing. Some lives are better lived than others, some have the life force stronger than others, Don Quixote's adventures reveal a flawed but good human being but he never approached political and social power, his vision of a better world made up of noble acts never passed beyond fancy, reality is always a drag. It is important to be a good human, to work good works, to perform noble acts, after all, what else is there to do? But works and acts address the merely and immediate human, this cannot bring about the revolution. Good acts in the capitalist world is pissing in the wind (the cherry saplings on the estate where we live have all been snapped). A generality of good acts depends upon an entirely different configuration of social power, communism comes after revolution.

Monsieur Dupont, February 2002.

To get over the wall we first have to get to the wall

Reading your article about five years of Red and Black Notes has made us think about the paucity of interesting literature these days in Britain. In the 1990's, when I was doing Proletarian Gob, there were lots of little 'zines' about of varying theoretical quality, but now there is hardly any stuff of any interest. This is partly due to the closure of lots of 'alternative' bookshops across Britain (for financial and exhaustion reasons rather than any plot by the State!) More importantly, economic determinations have been allowed free reign within the milieu without any theoretical reflection on them and very basic industrial forms of production have been absorbed and replicated by the radical milieu at the very moment of their denunciation of such forms. We mean this: at the moment that anarchism decides to try to rally people for the cause of anti-globalisation and anti-monopoly its own structure becomes a reflection of the ideologies it says it is fighting! Anarchism is an ideology that now clearly promotes the concept of set roles for producers (of anarchism) and consumers (of anarchism), it has become a rigid monopoly, despite all its hippy vagueness. Writers for anarchism are very few and they write for a readership that makes no response, that does not engage, the prescribed duty of the reader is to subscribe and donate cash. This does not compare favourably with the more chaotic and less closed down scene of about ten years ago where many people would be producing their own magazines and these would only be read by people who were also producing such magazines. The content was often poor but at least the structure was not anti-human. Now we see monopolising tendencies such as AK Press/Distribution and papers that place publication dates and glossy, but boring, format over content (for example, our letters to Freedom could not be published for reasons of form - the very idea of changing the form to accommodate our contributions was unthinkable). We're not attacking these people personally since they are working hard, they are putting the hours in, but they are not reflecting on what they are doing. They are running their wheels in a rut because it is the 'image' and 'structure' of what they call anarchism or communism that they are busy maintaining rather than helping create the space for a free development of pro-revolutionary ideas and theory that is based on their own and others' actual immediate experience. 'The market' in Britain is now sown up by an old guard. The old guard I would say are people like the old timers in the Anarchist Federation, Class War, anarcho-syndicalists, Freedom, Aufheben, Undercurrent, the people who run things like the 'No War But The Class War’ grouping, and organise the anarchist May Day fiascos. The 'scene' is run by people who have now been around a long time, and because these people have a relatively restrictive set of reference points, their psychological make up and political blindspots are mechanically reproduced and amplified over and over again. Because of this we continually run up against the same prejudices and errors. There is, of course, a steady transfusion of 'new blood', but it is just that, a traffic of consumers who are unable to contribute anything because of the restrictive structure of the anarchy factory. We can see this phenomenon most clearly in organisations such as the British Anarchist Federation, but it exists throughout the milieu. On top of this the internet and email have detrimentally influenced the ability to engage with others. There is very little development of ideas in discussion; other than us there are few individuals or groups that actively engage using correspondence and there is much too much religious maintenance of preserved and sacred positions. We do not have our own web-site, we do not have our own magazine, what would be the point? We do not want to be dragged down by proprietorship; for us it is important to appear in other people's web-sites and magazines and we always do so by taking an article from the magazine as our starting point.

Obviously there are exceptions to this (tentative) rule/observation about 'the old guard', but the truth of the significant part of the matter seems to be that theory is dead, that it is stuck in the past, and that the anarchist/communist 'scene' is a kind of exclusive racket run by and for the benefit of people who have lost touch with reality a long time ago. The form taken by pro-revolutionary groups actively dissuades any theory that might result in the alteration of the form of the group. Theory is dead because organising is the imposition of dead forms. Yes, the past shows us that the inevitably short dynamic periods of pro-revolutionary innovation always begin and end in failure, but at least, for a while, they seem to have some connection with reality. The present configuration of anarchist/communist politics is like a dead body, which no one in their right mind will want to go near. So your calls for more 'discussion of ideas' is a welcome one, even if it will probably lead nowhere. It is, to us, self-evident that every genuine contribution to revolutionary forms made by the pro-revolutionary milieu is accompanied by, or wholly embodied in, an attack on existing pro-revolutionary institutions.

Below are a couple of questions I want to raise that were provoked by your article, 'The Legacy of CLR James'. On page 9, in the last paragraph, you say that one of the 'key strengths' of the Johnsonites was their focus on the working class and 'that the working class was key to a revolution'. This is interesting, but you don't explain what they meant by the working class being 'key'. It is right, as you do, to criticise the notion that 'revolutionaries' must bring ideas to the people (which, for example, from our understanding, is the aim of the main participants on the Internationalists' Discussion List, mentioned elsewhere in the magazine). But this use of the 'working class' as a holy touchstone, as 'the key', only serves to put us in a mysticaf land where we know the working class is important but we never quite know why (for why we at Monsieur Dupont think the working class in particular industries is important look again at our "Reply to 'The Real Movement").

On the following page you do a good description of Lenin but before that, at the end of the first paragraph, there is more obliqueness. You say: "Marx noted that you make a revolution and that's how you change people. If you wait for it to happen the other way, you'll be waiting a long time". This is the heart of Marx's vagueness on this issue. What you have said ("make a revolution"), and indeed how Lenin could have interpreted what Marx said, is that Lenin was right - he did make (well, hi-jacked) a revolution in order to then work on the minds of the people.

The problem, I find, with the rest of the piece is an inability to discard the ideological temptations of leadership and organisation. What you perhaps might be reading into the Castoriadis and Brendel quote is that they are talking about 'revolutionary' organisations, that they are talking about a 'revolutionary' movement, but they are not talking about such things - even if they thought, at the time, that they were. We all know from history that there has not been one organisation that has ever been, or ever could be, actually revolutionary. Castoriadis and Brendel, here, do not make this claim for workers' organisations, but they could have tried harder, and gone on to conclude that in all events of a revolutionary nature the workers will be in opposition to 'their' existing organisations, and/or at their mercy. They are right to tell other pro-revolutionaries to desist from setting up anything that aims to herd workers towards the promised land, but they do not develop, at this point anyway, any elaboration of the tensions that will arise in periods of economic calamity.

You say: "I don't want to suggest that the working class does not need organisation. In fact, organisation and the ability to stop production are the key strengths of the working class". These are such loaded and impenetrable sentences. For us pro-revolutionaries it should be (but usually isn’t) clear that the important, essential, or key, part of the working class is that which can halt production. Without production being halted nothing happens, there can be no revolution, there can be no communism. But what do you mean when you preface this statement with the assertion that 'organisation' is also a 'key strength', is 'needed'? You are not (we hope!) simply bowing to Castoriadis' and Brendel's 'authority' (they said it so it must be right). What sort of organisation are you talking about? Are you talking about workers organised in unions? Are you talking about political parties? Are you talking about workers organised in 'revolutionary' armies? Are you talking about the temporary organisations that emerge during strikes or insurrectional events? Are you talking about various and fleeting means of self-defence? When you say that you "don't want to suggest that the working class does not need organisation" you are not defining what you mean by 'organisation', even when you talk about 'organic leaderships'.

But we must go further than this and look at just what we are implying when we talk about the working class having 'strengths' at all. When we start to talk about the (amorphous) working class having general worthy characteristics then we are walking into very dubious terrain. The working class are not good, honest and salt of the earth. People who think the working class has innate cultural, social and political ethical characteristics (and this includes many anarchists and communists) must surely not want them to lose these characteristics by ceasing to be the exploited class. Anyone who says they love the working class is either an idiot, a tyrant or a tyrant in waiting. The working class, if we are to talk about it as a unit, if it has 'strength' only has the strength of a lumbering blind beast, this is what our bosses are aware of and this is why they control us in particular ways (carrots and sticks).

They are aware that if they lose control then this beast may sweep them all away in its blind attempts at self-defence (only in the commotion of casting the bosses aside will the beast be able to open its eyes and begin to decide how to live).

It is not a 'strength' of the working class that it is able to halt production, it is merely a fact. If we talk about working class strengths then we may be encouraged to try to appeal to their good side, we may say to the amorphous working class (through our unread leaflets) that they trald the strength', or whatever, to stop the capitalist economy so they must wise up and get to it. But, oh misery, they don't listen to us, and we are left with only one course of action: to try to get the numbers of people who subscribe to anarchism or communism to rise, the essential workers won't listen but maybe others will? Maybe, if we try hard, we will be able to kick start a movement that will reach some critical number and then we can have a revolution, for it is often said by tired old pro-revolutionary hacks that it is only a movement, imbued, of course, with worthy characteristics, that can destroy capital. This seems to be the sad and a-historical plan of every group and individual in this political milieu from formal recruiting anarchist organisations to the core of informal networks such as Echanges et Mouvement. Here, incidentally, we are back at the question of putting carts before horses, which we explained in our 'Reply...'.

So let's drop our fixation with 'working class organisation', which for many is merely another term for 'movement'. The revolutionary 'organisation' (that is, strategies and tactics for their defence) that workers will be involved in will only appear after production has been halted, it cannot happen before. Before this point only otner forms of worker (or people) organisation can appear or exist, things like unions, clubs, or informal or formal political parties.

There is a theoretical brick wall that the anarchist and communist milieu refuse to confront, this refusal makes them intellectually weak and causes them to be the tools of authority, this brick wall is the fact that EVENTS WILL SHAPE PEOPLE'S CONSCIOUSNESS; EVENTS WILL MAKE PEOPLE ACT; CONSCIOUSNESS IS DETERMINED BY THE MATERIAL STRUCTURE OF OUR LIVES; MASS CHANGES IN CONSCIOUSNESS COME AFTER CHANGES IN THE MATERIAL BASE OF SOCIETY. If communism ever appears it can only do so after the cotiapse of -capitalism, communism is not a movement, or a question of organisation, it is only a vague description of a possible way of life for humankind. Communism comes after revolution, and revolution will not be made by any of us. Our inevitable and necessary failure as pro-revolutionaries is written on this wall, just as is our failure, and our parents' failure, to live fully as human beings. Against the missionary and dishonest optimism of pro-revolutionaries we posit a basic nihilism.

Monsieur Dupont July 2002


An example of how to write a leaflet, since most leaflets one will see are examples of how not to write a leaflet:


The Dynamics of "Protest" Seen in the Recent Petrol Blockades in Britain

Below are some brief notes regarding the recent petrol blockades in Britain (September and November 2000). What hooks our attention in these events is not the "consciousness" of the protesters, whether the protesters were "reactionary" or "petty bourgeois/middle class", but the dynamic of the struggle; the truisms it laid bare; the potential for utilising, some of the tactics employed, and lessons that might be learned, in the future struggles of wage labour.

September 2000, an outbreak of effective popular spontaneity occurs, i.e., a non-formal organisation takes the State unawares, the police back off, approaches are made to identify leaders so as to enter into a condition of negotiation and thus out of crisis.

The size of public support takes everyone by surprise. The left condemn the fuel protesters as fascists because the protesters reveal no apparent ideological consciousness, and are often petit bourgeois/middle class, even being employers themselves.

Many people comment on the pleasurable quietness of the world, people start talking to each other - the privations generate a sense of pleasurable solidarity. "Social dislocation" is not as unpleasant as the media try to make us believe.

Objectively, the blockades bite very quickly into the reserves of the 'Just in Time' economy - the State seems paralysed, unable to strike out in all directions at once, its counter insurgency measures appear to simply rely on information gathering. But as there is no intelligence (i.e., there is no overt, formal leadership as yet: everyone is involved), it sits and does nothing.

Protesters call off the blockades, formalise a pressure group, set timescales and make demands.

A propaganda offensive is begun by the State particularly through progressive and green journalists.

Leaders are identified and very quickly are divided into moderates and extremists, debates are set up between them, on Channel Four News etc., in order to establish rivalries.

The formalisation of the protesters organisation places it within the State's discourse. What matters now is not the expression of feral power on the roads but of having opened up a direct route of negotiation with the State (a Trojan horse in reverse, the State allowed such an opportunity precisely because it could neutralise that kind of organisation).

When it was publicly perceived that this was not a peasants revolt but just a bunch of petty capitalists trying to get a little bit extra then public support very quickly dwindled. What they had liked was the "aggro", the sight of workers confidently taking on the state, when that proved to be not really the case, they lost interest, "the public" has no interest in issues (consciousness) only in power and counter power.

Of course the enticement of negotiation was a lie, the state will exact a revenge on the individuals involved. Melville writes in Billy Budd of a system of power whereby the ship's master-at-arms has means at his disposal for punishing individuals who may not have broken any rules but have become subversive of the ship's spirit. It is described as being down on you, Billy Budd finds that he encounters all sorts of inexplicable bad things happening to him, petty things but annoying all the same. And all the white the master-at-arms, who orchestrates Budd's perplexity, smiles at him.

The build up to the proposed actions planned for November are portrayed in the media as indecisive, weak and confused. The protesters, in a classic tactical error, but under immense pressure and no doubt destabilisation strategies, decide in favour of adopting a policy of gaining State recognition (and respectability) and forget the blockading lessons of their earlier efforts. One 'leader’ publicly declares that if any unruly drivers picket a fuel depot he will personally go to them and demand they stop. There has developed within the drivers leadership an aversion to the tactic of the blockades, a vertigo at the prospect of so much instant power, a terror of what they have done.

In general terms we should see this stage not so much as a crisis of consciousness but a forgetting of me nature of power in the rush to be heard and to be accepted by the State. The impulse to act within the law, to appear respectable and within the pale is very strong - most protest groups see the adoption of a rational, media acceptable face as the only way of getting things done. But the public were not interested in the 'issue' what they admired was the actualisation of power created by the blockaders, power attracts support - from this we can infer that a large section of the populace will become pro-revolutionary almost immediately in any similar crisis initiated by a proper working class intervention, and they will do so not because of the issue at hand but because they sense their direct access to power.

Police anti-convoy tactics. Splitting up convoys, individual harassment, setting routes and no-go zones (firstly they just want to negotiate, open up channels, they then use these 'channels' as 2 means for dictating terms to the protesters). Changing-of plans, abandoning agreements without notice. Provocation and intimidation, including videoing. (in one incident a driver demanded that a TV camera crew observe the blatant police surveillance he was suffering, the camera didn't move). Given that the September blockades had conveyed a sense of power, solidarity and strength, the harmonised work of the police and media was now to generate images and actions of weakness and division. We saw hysterical, frustrated drivers, the derisory 'convoy’ of a few lorries and the protesters represented (as are all non-establishment political entities) as a minority divided from the normal and neutral population as a whole.

The informational forces of the State had, by November, plenty of time to gear up, the State shepherded the 'convoy' down to London like it was droving sheep for market day. The despair of the drivers in the convoy became apparent as they realised they'd been had. "Now it's gloves off," snarled one of them to the TV news, impotently. The lorry drivers suddenly became another squealing TV protest group like the Greenham Women. The shrillness of tone in itself indicates powerlessness and interrupts any potential solidarity or support.

It seems therefore that making demands on the back of popular revolt is automatically a disaster because revolt cannot be called back, also it cannot be called for in advance, there is an alchemy to it, a mystery, it just happens, it cannot be made into a political entity. The Situatiorrists had it right the only call to revolt is to say to it, "Call that a revolt, that's nothing! Take courage you pussyfooters, one more step." Revolt is a blind bull feeling for a way out of the field and into a different arena, what it lacks is not consciousness but tools that are applicable to the job.

It seems the move to symbolic action (as opposed to real action) is a disaster and everyone who had previously pricked up their ears lost interest.

Local negotiation with the police is a disaster as they will use any agreement as a lever.

Announcing in advance what you are going to do is a disaster because the State will stop you, there should always be alternatives and contingencies including absolute silence and doing nothing.

What we have learnt:

When revolts of this nature occur we tend to begin to speculate about ways that we (as radicals) might have related to such an event, or how we might relate to a similar one in the future, especially if the revolt in question had a proletarian character. We can see how the methods used in this revolt might be taken up by proletarian insurgents; therefore it is useful to think about now we might react to such future possibilities.

The petrol blockades show the apparent importance of using "anti-informational techniques". Most (repressive, dividing, and controlling) State activity works by identifying individuals and relating them through organisational structures, all membership organisations, therefore, are built with flaws present from the outset which the State is able to exploit, usually to the detriment of the whole "movement". (Look at the film, The Battle of Algiers.)

In general terms spontaneity is one anti-informational technique, another is the absence of significant individuals, in particular (as radicals who desire the overthrow of capitalism), we can also draw the lesson that "the revolution" is not the ("revolutionary") organisations' preserve. Still another anti-informational stance is group openness, explicitness and coherence (not'openness to the State but to comrades: no fronts; no issues; no hidden agendas). Nothing can be found out that is not hidden. Structurally, genuinely radical "political" groups will never be more than pro-revolutionary, so if they are neutralised then it will make no decisive difference because the action is going on elsewhere (this is only a rationalisation of what is already true). The role of organised groups is very specific, they are not a vanguard but can have a decisive role, they are never revolutionary, they are pro-revolutionary and as such can bring things as a kind of service provider to workers engaged in direct struggle. Therefore, in a similar situation to the fuel blockades, the pro-revolutionary group will agitate to clarify what is going on, to maintain the situation, to further the sense of power and progress by interventions on small 'second fronts' (in their localities or at work, for example), to provide communication and information. When nothing is happening these organisations should do nothing more than maintain networks at a minimal level.

The most important lesson of the blockades, and their subsequent translation into symbolic protest, is to do nothing unless you have the power to do it successfully (give the State no chance to practice its techniques) and then do nothing that feels like a retreat or a crossing over into a terrain described by the State (i.e. don't let them set the terms, it would have been better if the fuel protesters had done nothing after September, that way the threat would have remained).

What is certain is that most of the radical movement will instantly pass over onto the terrain of the State in the event of any crisis but this may be just a short term thing (most of the left supported both the action of the State against the blockaders and the bombing of Serbia) when they have regained their nerve they may return to their radical democratic (and thus, still anti-proletarian) positions. It is quite plain that these radicals are a miserable shower.

Red Robbie, Proletarian Gob, Nov. 2000.


Only we can prevent mythology

four conceptual definitions intended for use by anarchists, circumstances permitting

managing: the situation. A current controversy rippling across the soft-cop sphere is the mysterious phenomenon of depression which is supposed by the WHO to become the major health issue in the West some time soon. The story goes, One in Five this, suicide rates that, is it genetic, is it environmental, what is the effect of anti-depressants, is there a talking cure and how much would it cost etc etc.

One participant of the frenzy, a pro-pills psychologist, sticking tightty to- the parameters- of accepted specialisation, claimed that not only was the incidence of depression on the increase but that it was also now seen to be a chronic (ie incurable) condition. The metaphor and model of uncontrollable spread and futurelessness is now highly visible in almost all academic discourse. It seems capital wishes to theorise the worst case scenario of no way out.

Universities are in the grip of a profs fad for making pronouncements on the inescapable in all manner of issues. The continuous, brainstorming, on academia's. intranet, in every field, is throwing up the same formula over and over again: this so and so detail of present existence (crime, hayfever, rainfall, starvation) which is the object of our Study, is on the increase (and that's bad) and there is no answer to it (and that's good), let's keep researching. How exquisitely the higher functions of restricted thought mirror the base urge of mature capital accumulation.

The scene is this; the period of innovation and experiment is long since dead and all that is left is the dotting of the I's, extra shading irr of the white areas and some filling irr of the few unused pockets: phones that take pictures, cars that don't pollute, equal opportunities, 24 hour drinking.

The gee whizz forward march of progress has not just hit a dead end, even if that’s how it seems what with post millennial ennui and the exhaustion of all available forms, we've been up against the wall for at least fifty years but it's only now that the university is beginning to register it (of course the end of art emerged a hundred years ago and that there are no.good tunes anymore is a commonplace). Expansionism is long since finished and what's left is throwing metal at useless desert terrain, in the name of what? War's fought for war itself, for the ripples of crisis it creates? This is what it seems like, of course, and indeed how it has come to be promoted, and there is truth in it, like the truth of art, and underneath this art there are the perfectly sane, rational and simple facts of economic life, specifically oil (but don't, dear reader, think you'll change anything by 'revealing the truth' to twenty readers of your little news-sheet, especially after other, highly respected, magazines have been revealing such truths for years to many more people).

But everything is in crisis, everything has gone wrong and every specific is found to be both an epidemic and. a chronic situation-terrorists, autism and pop idols are everywhere. And every crisis, be it infant delinquency, homelessness or deforestation has its own admin team in attendance, there are agencies, charities, gov, depts, NGO's all gathered round judiciously pruning back the worst excesses in a bonsai style but keeping their interest and their income at competitive levels. Paradoxically, given the causes of war, corporate corruption and oil slicks, crisis and the management of crisis is the only given spectacular explanation for why we need our governments and their xmas tree array of specialised experts. Who else could we turn to? Managing crisis (you might say manufacturing crisis) and the prediction for more and worse on the way is the current strategy for governance; it seems (aren't natural disasters brilliant?) that there are no solutions as new and completely unforeseen catastrophes keep on coming, there's no time for the future we're too busy plugging the dyke. This means they're off the hook and don't have to make any promises any more about getting things right. Poor governments, they are the victims of invisible forces.

There is only containment of the problems, they say, because total breakdown of governmental management would have consequences that were much, much worse. Governments don't have blueprints, burning visions, or even destinies to be claimed for the future but threaten us instead with a present wracked with increasing instability - social life, what we have now is about to slip away, we may have to take less, because to ask for more (as the firefighters have done) is to propose complete economic breakdown, it's all hands to the pumps. The system is not legitimised because of its demonstrated mastery of the situation, the question never comes into focus, what we get is a demonstrated and deliberate show of the failure of government and the weary excuse that the failure could have been greater. The system itself is never the problem because it promises no success, it can have no downfall as its existence is already justified negatively: at least this is preferable to terrorism or financial recession, or high inflation, or the riotings of anti-capitalism. This is the best we can hope for - given the circumstances.

The charts of the university show a rapid failing away in red marker pen and in the real world too there is a sense of insuperable obstacles, better to use them as barricades than attempt to go through, who knows what's on the other side? If this is the Masque of the Red Death then what's to be done next? The language of social control is one of managing an unending series of chronic situations, every value is slipping, a feral, underneath capitalism is breaking out below, the nature of ownership, given present figures, could be under dispute in twenty years (but remember the predictions made for bomb damage to Second World War London based on Great War statistics). Manufactured threats inoculate against real instabilities, that or ownership has reached a point of auto-erotic suffocation where there is no such thing as real instability and capital ruthlessly pursues its own piecemeal breakdown in order to, Sarajevo style, tender contracts for the rebuild before any bombs have fallen. Robbie Williams has become, to the critics chagrin, the melancholy balladeer of this impasse of wealth without opposition; 'I'm a star but I'll fade' he whines and accurately portrays the present moment - nothing's going anywhere.

What the owners need now is something to move things on, something to precipitate a big crisis right now in the hope of preventing it some time later when the attrition of boredom has left them too weak to keep a grip on it When the situationists predicted that boredom would be the motivation for revolution little did they think that tedium would be felt most keenly not by the proletariat but by the ruling -lass which is even now nihilistically slashing at its wrists desperate like Robbie to feel real. AH this stagnation is doing for them, they want something threatening, something real, a sport more than sport, a vortex of the amphitheatre, a hole to pour their wealth into. A revolutionary attempt or some similar trauma will freshen the terms in play very nicely, abolish depression and provide out of one day's disaster another fifty years of ivory tower research.

defeat: it is 16/11/02. The forty per cent has been modified to sixteen and the firefighters- are treading for some kind of industrial relations calamity. It is dreadful to see honest people being squeezed by the likes of Mandelson and the Iron Chancellor, dreadful but inevitable. They cannot win their strike against the government, all conditions are against them, the laws of physics and biology are against them. And if they did win by some miracle, they still would lose, something else other than pay would be dragged , back from them. No specific struggle against capital can be won, all isolated engagements end in defeat.

Will the firefighters' draw the appropriate conclusions from their humiliation? Loss of hope, cynicism, pessimism these are the open eyed modes of consciousness appropriate to present conditions; there are no solutions, no good prospects, no chance of improving, your lot, things are going down, we're all going, down together. Everything is decay and defeat, the world is grey. Big, good men are laid low by weasly small men. Treachery wins out time and time again, true-hearted intention is turned to further the purpose of despair. These are the blackest days.

And so, if we cannot win, if defeat by the powers of darkness are certain what then of our rejection of the bad days?

Nothing is changed, an illusion is crushed that is all. Resistance is not a bet made, Pascal style, in the hope of making a fortune in the future, it is an unavoidable burden, a fate, a curse upon our miserable band. Shall we then hear no more uplifting songs from the activist camp, no more group patriotism, no more positivity, no more, together we can do it'. Let us find in the defeat of the firefighters the absolute truth of capitalised existence: people lose out to money, we lose out to money. With no prospect of victory we still go on because the resistant position is not dependent on either political victory or lifestyle choice, it is an unavoidable chore. Without illusions we must proceed, our consciousness hardened.

anti-imperialism: Assumes imperialism, which in itself is a mystification of the nature of ownership that seeks to explain the necessity of maintaining the integrity of national borders and a specific political elite made up of patriotic owners against all evidence of the internationalrty of capital and the homelessness of the proletariat.

" 'Our people suffer from poverty,' he told me, as we sat in his office in the capital, Belmopan, 'we need development in our country. And much as we want to preserve our environment for this and future generations, we have to develop.' When I pointed out that there is a moratorium in Newfoundland on the size of a dam that his government is allowing Fortis to build in Belize, he grew testy. 'Canada continues to build dams,' he said. 'The European countries continue to build dams. But little Belize is not allowed to build dams? Is that what you are telling, me?’” The Guardian Weekend 9/11/02

Anti-imperialism is a political retreat made by the left from the incomprehensibility, of class struggle, it is staged in the hope that the left can break free of local complication and therefore afford itself the luxury of positively endorsing a simple cause without being too involved. There is a pleasure in being on the outside, of having no influence and therefore no responsibility. One may own one's radical opinion about the stark contrasts of faraway places sure in the knowledge that it will never be engaged.

The proletariat is substituted off radical ideology's footie pitch for being too unpolitical and is replaced by the apparently coherent teamplayers of foreigners eager to struggle against our ruling class. Those who would reject British or American nationalism by means of pointing out the complexity of those societies, saying, there is not one interest here but many and then showing how patriotism is but a means to repress contradictions to the dominant cultural form,' are quite content to affirm the cross-class nationalisms of distant lands and thus by implication their elite (AKA Mandela, Arafat, Marcos, Che, Ho Chi Minn etc) and thereby negating the interest of the local proletariat.

Whilst it would be entirely inappropriate for these liberal apologists to advocate violence in their own countries it is apparently 'understandable' in places like Palestine, in fact the further away the bomb the more 'understandable' the atrocity. This inevitably develops into a partial analysis of the news in which 'we' call 'your’ victories massacres and describe 'our" massacres as a natural expressions of justified anger. In Schnews (issue 377) the terrorists who exploded the nightclub' irr Bali (1 1/10702) were only attacking a 'hated symbol of western imperialism' whilst the real criminals were apparently those on holiday, 'drunken, obnoxious, youngish Australians... (who) flaunt their money and feel like royalty for two weeks' a political code, no doubt, for uncultured Aussie workers. In the same way Palestinian statists routinely attack work and school buses because the working class are the least well defended of all Israelis and travel in large groups. The very move away from industrial militancy as a strategy in these countries in favour of bourgeois means of conspiracy, terror and coup d'etat indicates the arrival on the scene of a nascent bourgeois elite ready to take power and eliminate all rivals. The techniques of Hamas show them to be middle class first and Palestinian second.

Support in the west for distant, simplified struggles (like the Zapatista phenomenon) shows both a fatal alienation of committed intellectuals from the proletariat at home (which has an inevitable and disastrous effect on their intellectualising eg there is a downturn in the struggle [as if that were possible], or more simply, nothing ever happens here), it also indicates a football fan-like requirement to support 'a side' in every issue of the day thus displaying an apparent mastery of all 'world events'.

We, on the contrary, think pro-revolutionaries should have nothing to say on most issues that appear in the news as they refer to inter-capitalist rivalry, the outcome of which cannot change the basic form of property and thus class domination. Intellectual and romantic identification for virile foreigners began with the snobbish Byron, continued with HG Wells and DH Lawrence's-admiration for Mussolini and now is a staple of leftist ideology. In all cases admiration for the foreign native is attended by a distaste for the decadence of the local proletariat anti-imperialism because it is based on a simple reversal of terms (aren't the aborigines lovely but we are so barbaric and inferior) has a distinctly imperialistic flavour. It seems there is one- thing more stupid than patriotism and that's patriotism for someone else's country.

left wing: The left wing and ultra-realist film maker Ken Loach observes how times have changed between the making of Kes and his most recent film Sweef Sixteen. In the old days there was some chance of redemption he says because of the dignity of traditional labour. Kids in the Seventies grew up in the context of stable communities so even if they went off the rails for a while they could be brought- back in line by work and everyday banality. With the undermining of such communities by various actions of capital (anti-union legislation, de-skilling, globalisation/relocation of industries, set-piece defeats of the working class as in the miners' strike etc) the kids have nothing to do but either, educate themselves into professional careers or get involved in the drugs mafia. Dad's depressed and on the dole, mum's drinking hard and everyone's a junky. No way out once you've got into it and the result is addiction, guns, robbery, further destabilisation and despair. In consequence the working class have lost their power and are further oppressed by an uncaring elite.

We do not disagree with Loach's account, although his schematic reductionism from an inevitably privileged position, his tendency towards placing quick morality above critique and his limited portrayal of the working class as Brechtian peasants all within a mass entertainment (ie capitalist) medium makes his work probably less accurate in its portrayal of class conflict than Harry Potter. So whilst we agree that things are getting worse what he proposes as a solution illustrates very well the core of left wing ideology. He says there are a lot of underemployed electricians and mechanics out there and what's needed is a reinvestment in traditional industries, this will resurrect old communities and everything will be well again because such labour brings dignity. Whilst we accept that it is likely that working in a cotton mill is more dignified than robbing old people to feed a hundred pound a day heroin addiction, it is even so a very limited socialist goal to have as your ambition for the poor only that they should find something useful to do with their hands. To contrast, in the Technicolour Joseph style, the fat years then with the thin years now is an acceptable political tactic but to proclaim as your solution to the thin times a return to industrial slavery is about as limited and ugly a concept of freedom and equality as it is .possible to get. What the left forgets is that the same rules are in play now as they were then, things have got worse but have not changed. The time of wonder and freedom cannot be found in examples of the past, the days full of stars have, not yet arrived, they have, no name, they will be utterly unlike today and unlike all previous days - The names given by the left for what they want, a living wage, dignity of labour, national ownership are precisely the limits of their agenda. To go back to the days when such things were possible will always ultimately bring us to where we are now because whether things get better or worse, nothing essential has changed: liberalism slips into fascism, or state socialism and back again according to economic pressures, and whilst the rhetoric alters the same people hold power. In all political examples the same rules are in force.

Thus Left Wing means being stuck ideologically in a loop between past and present, it seeks to defend what has already been lost using moralistic arguments based in nostalgia ('look how bad things have got') for fear of alienating a perceived reactionary public to whom you must always appeal with your clumsy populism, being convinced they are incapable of conceiving anything beyond existing- terms. Whilst we agree with Loach that most people are thick we do not agree that appealing to their stupidity is an appropriate strategy for bringing on the beautiful revolution.

Monsieur Dupont December 2002


Do you want to be, or don't you want to be...soft, like me…?
Anarchists must say what only anarchists can say
Monsieur Dupont's New Year Message

Part One

I stopped briefly on the bridge over the A14 near Milton's Tesco and watched as cars, vans and lorries appeared and vanished like shooting stars beneath my feet. For once not content with the devil getting all the best lines I made a duce-like proclamation from my impromptu balcony, 'every vehicle on this road,' I said, contains at least one for-itself individual and yet from my perspective all this is just noisy, slightly vertiginous traffic of a somewhat sinister connotation.'

I could have made a subjective case here for the apparent divergence of traffic and personhood based upon previous theoretical reflections on a theme of alienation, but it would have been made against all objective evidence. Instead I wondered at the contrary tendency, that of the steady integration of individuality and production - someone once said to me, I sat in my car in a London traffic jam and I looked, around me, at the other cars all stuck just like me and I thought, all of this, so much of it, how could there ever be a revofution? It is because all this modem life is so absurd that you can't get rid of it, there's no reality to appeal to.' Of course, this comment is a misunderstanding of things in the style of not being able to see the wood for the trees. In another sense it highlights the childish despair of those who seem to want to change the world by changing appearances, who give up because of the impossibility of the (absurd) task they have set themselves. They can sense it but cannot grasp it: there is no clear blue sea between the commodity and the human being.

There is no wild essence, like the red squirrel under threat but still holding, on, which we could use to repopulate the wilderness. There is nothing real to go back to, and nothing at all of what existed before the motorway now survives.

Cycling away from the fact of the motorway my mind recoiled and sought some ideational solace from the perpetual launchpad of all those barrai journeys: I thought on as freewheeled down the hill, passed by white vans, park and ride buses and brewery trucks. What exactly, I asked myself, is the relation between the road (its complex of habits, purposes, rules, laws, vehicles, surface, destinations etc) and the individual beings that hurtle along it?

Is there not, I thought, an illustrative correlation here concerning human existence lived within the frame of capitalism's soft totalitarianism?

The motorway's example and metaphor
of the maximised commodification
of individuality and the secondary
integration of its figure within
a stabilising albumen of social admin.
First the law, then the policing of the law.
First the policing of the law, then the law.

The parable is also the paradigm. Isn't driving your car on a motorway a bit like making love to a beautiful woman?

A bit like shopping, a bit like a maternity ward, a bit like filling in forms, a bit like education?

The motorway is a sophisticated conveyor belt, a factory process that produces both destination and a high velocity turnover of packaged units all done up in their cars like unique and expensive chocolates. A bit like eating, a bit like having an operation, a bit like emotions and stupid political solutions? A bit like dying, a bit like clicking on your mouse, a bit like the fall of civilisations, a bit like reading novels? Appearing here, ending there, distance and the time to cover that distance. Hold-ups, contra-flows, accident blackspots, tail-backs.

It seems you can and you cannot travel the same motorway twice.

All the movement and the events borne of movement: disease, ideas, accidents, disasters, military manoeuvres, and money (always money), getting to work, to the out of town, off on our hols, the products rolling off the line, the waste products dragged off to the dump, all that and the motorway itself untouched, ever present like a black angel's roar, like money washing over us; everything is integrated into the economy as a commodity, even our underpants. The motorway is the site of movement, just as the factory is the site of production, from a single of its products you may deduce the capitalist economy, from one car you will understand distribution.

The motorway does not move but gives form to every possible movement from the smooth flow to the grinding snarl-up.

Moving and non-movement, the motorway conditions all possible phenomena even that which reflects critically upon it (anti-globalisers hop on aeroplanes to attend far away conferences against aeroplanes, but to travel by mule would be mere conceit). Yes you may alter your car, reform it, change it for another, try alternative fuels, you can transform your driving habits, you can pledge yourself to the cause of safety; at the level of your ownership you are free to do anything, but... nothing of what you choose has any significance to anyone but yourself, all choices are conditioned. And ethical choices, even if they are shared with a number of others remain at the level of ethics, there is no true organisation in it, it is not a politics, it can have no impact on the nature of the motorway.

The rules for the road are set by the road and not its users, there is imposition not consensus.

The conditioned response, the effect, the result cannot reach round and alter the forces determining its presence or its character. The road drives your car, it's in your unconscious, you can't turn it off, you hear it on the other side of the hill, rubber spinning water. Nobody can stop it because nobody chose it, it is a fact, the world we live in. In the same way a television programme critical if the psycho-sociological effects of television ultimately ends by affirming the amazing versatility of the medium, it certainly cannot turn the box off and release people to do something less boring instead. Television and the motorway, unlike the Roman Emperors, tolerate, even encourage, dissent.

Outside the metaphor anarchists can refuse details and go on demonstrations, they can change their life, they can try to will the future into existence, they can go vegan, they can develop viable alternatives, can proclaim themselves against burger bars and coffee shops, they can develop green, organic, co-operative ventures. They can attempt to control every detail of their life and make it as alternative as is possible but the system itself remains out of reach, capital is untouched. When they're saving the environment by recycling their rubbish someone else is making a profit from their unpaid labour. When they're printing leaflets and shouting slogans for the holy cause someone less scrupulous and more organised is turning thatto their political advantage.

Within the metaphor, anarchists can disrupt local traffic with their critical masses, they can park their cars on the hard shoulder and go and find themselves in the adjacent field of sugarbeet, nobody notices the sparks that fly off into the dark periphery. They can drive their tractors slowly, they can hold parties on the tarmac, they can dig up chunks of what they hate, they can make other drivers feel very, very annoyed by their pranks and provocations. But all of this is second level voluntarism (I am determined by the road therefore I rebel against the road), it is not deep down structural, it's at the level of 'Starbucks bad, Fairtrade good', it's secondary and not right in there, touching the heart of it. The best second level structure for political reflection on economic forces is democracy, but at all times in its history democracy has shown itself to be controlled by and not in control of, the economy. Those 'anarchists' advocating municipalism and 'real' democracy should take note of this failure.

Part Two

The system of the motorway, the social relation of the motorway is left untouched by any attack on its specifics, untouched or is it reinvigorated? Does it bloom like the desert in places where fire and rain have visited? Anarchism like that is an ethics, it doesn't hurt the motorway even though it wants to. It doesn't hurt the motorway because it is just one response to present conditions amongst many, and it takes its place alongside all other theories and actions as an ideology, that is as one strand of commodrfied consciousness. On the motorway, everything that can happen will happen including dissent against it, but we see how achieving the blessed condition of dissent does not naturally qualify the rebel to actually change anything or even to escape the conditioning of the present To say 'no' does not make you a time traveller to the future. I have met anarchists who live like ironside puritans and others of a deliberately decadent inclination, but whether you forbid or celebrate you do not touch capitalism itself, at every point it holds you in its palm: sometimes allowing a little more movement, sometimes gripping harder. Capitalism has encouraged democracy, fascism, state socialism, theocracy, militarism, human rights, you name it, every political vehicle is compatible with it.

Counter culture? Capital will commodity it, instigate it, reproduce it and sell it. There is no outside the loop.

The motorway cannot be undone either by ideas or practice. It cannot be undone. You think a million people like you could do the business? Well, where are they? If you haven't got them after two hundred years of agitation what makes you think they will turn up now or some time in the future? And do you really think it possible that a million people can believe the same thing at the same time? How would you check they were really thinking what you thought and not hoping to get something else out of it, a phd thesis, a promotion, a ministerial promotion, a groovy party, radical credibility, a new girlfriend? And if they did truly believe as you believe, if they downloaded your consciousness by what mechanism would that change the world? It sounds like magic: if we all think the same thing then everything will come good. Why should people believe what you say more than the promises of any other religion? The internet is full of get rich quick schemes, anarchism is just one of them.

The easy anarchist answer is that it is not thoughts that change the world but acts. So lef s just pause there and consider three recent pro-action claims: on 31/10/02 activists called for the occupation of Parliament but really that was just a ruse to get lots of police out of the way whilst the activists 'acted' on other stages, fine, except of course not everyone was let in on the secret. This is not the only occasion such tricks have been used and always there is some collateral damage where those not in the know are run over like hapless hedgehogs by the exigencies of the protest elite. Why don't they ask for volunteer sacrificial pawns? Brrrm Brrrm! Our second example comes from Class War issue 84, in this it is advocated that Christians be locked inside their churches, not Muslims, Jews or Hindus, only Christians, why? Don't ask us, apparently Christians are wankers, although of, course if the Christians thus imprisoned were black then such actions would come close to resembling something very unpleasant. Is revolution really to be kickstarted from cultivating prejudices against irrelevant subcultures? Whatever next, doomed publicity stunts against the monarchy? Our third example comes from the critique of recent Mayday events by various class struggle anarchists; their argument runs that dressing up in silly clothes and larking about is bourgeois (because the working class never do fancy dress) and illustrates very well the trivialities of the middle class entrepreneurs who run the unpolitical anti-capitalist scene. Their alternative proposal is a serious return to working class actions, but there is a problem with this on two counts, the first is based in mere jealousy, thefe is nothing wrong with people dressed up in silly costumes running round London once a year, the problem lies in attempting to graft a pseudo-revolutionary politics onto hi-jinks of any colour; secondly, if the actions were made more militant or diffused into local working class communities (whatever they are), nobody would show up. The fundamental flaw in political action is this: the more militant (and therefore true) the action is the less people want to participate in it, the more unreal and fluffy the more inclined they will be to turn up. Anarchists, being mostly young men, still have not learnt that only young men like to fightback on the streets, everyone else will find excuses not to be there. The choice is stark, it is between numbers or ideological purity.

But even to say that rubs some up the wrong way, all discussion subverts the glory of acts. Apparently talking and thinking gets you nowhere because 'there is no point in theory without action', as if the likes of Class War or RTS have ever got anywhere. How could Monsieur Dupont demonstrate its activities on the streets? How is anarchism demonstrated on the streets? It seems after all that all deliberate interventions made by the pro-revolutionary minority are acts, what is important is whether they do what it says they will do on the tin.

We shall quickly pass over the crude philosophical underpinnings of the direct action is the only language they understand arguments because they are made tactically merely to deflect attention from the small empires of established anarchist cults dominated by backdoor authoritarians which have not increased their membership or influence despite existing for many years and, what is worse, having recruited hundreds of adherents in that time only to lose them very rapidly when it becomes clear that these so called groups and federations are really only psychological projections of one or two individuals, this not only puts people off the groups in question but paints us all as brooding loonies obsessed with our own expertise.

Pro-activist anarchists are transfixed by the tableaux of street action but they cannot be bothered to ask themselves whether what is happening is achieving anything more than the spectacle itself; what they want is the reproduction of confrontation - the recorded display of resistance becomes the end in itself, it is a fetish, it has a cyclical temporality - check out any issue of Counter Information to confirm this, it's raison d'etre lies in an assumption of the accumulationary significance of tiny uncheckable snippets of info. Have the editors of this and other similar newsheets ever considered what the shelf-life is of their information? In what way do the struggles of the past still count? Are they part of a movement to change, a brick placed on a revolutionary wall that is slowly being built across the world by those fighting their bosses, or is each act's significance merely local in both place and time? A Zapatista says, 'any struggle that wins anywhere in the world is like a breath of oxygen to us.' We do not believe him.

But that is not our point. What is important with regard to political action, and a question that should be addressed by all interested parties is the decrease in complexity of political acts as the numbers involved increase. Whilst it is easy to programme a million people into accepting football and pop music as compensations for living impoverished lives, a certain quantity of displaced violence is necessary beforehand. Programmed or imposed behaviour is easily reproducible because of the immediate alienation we are all born into. This is why there is essentially no difference in attitudes to TV or supermarkets from one end of the country to the other, because people are responding to objective reality on a secondary level, that is they act as people who do not own the context of their experiences but even so have no option but to experience life in the shadow of the volcano. In these situations their 'free' actions conform very readily to half a dozen psychological types. Things are very different though if you ask, as pro-revolutionaries do, people to take control of their lives, or at least to protest against their conditions. If coercion is used in the name of revolutionary values, as in Northern Ireland (and you have sufficient firepower), you may impose on people a will to 'act' politically which they will do in the same passive way as others visit DIY stores, it becomes their culture. But if you want to remove all leadership structures and demand that people think and act for themselves then it becomes almost impossible to motivate more than a few thousand individuals from a wide geographical area to participate, and even then the specifics of the action will be undertaken by a relatively small number of young men with the majority content with an onlooker role. As the numbers of protesters increase, as with an anti-war march for example, so the 'action' taken and the reason for the actions becomes more and more simplified. To cut a long story short, it seems to us that the less people there are participating in political actions the more the acts conform to a defined set of ideas but this is felt to be not real enough because the numbers involved are so small. Contrariwise, the more numbers there are involved the more restricted are the possible actions and less defined the ideas. With the participation of a million people acting against capital the actions open to them appear to us to be primarily negative, namely the withdrawal of labour. The only other option is that of the mass demonstration which when boiled down to its essence is a gathering together in one place of many people for a set period of time beneath a one or two word slogan. To ask anything more is unrealistic, everyone will find an excuse not to act and to limit their participation because the pressures of reality carry too great a penalty. The exception to this is when people are compelled to respond to an objective economic crisis, as in Argentina at present, in this case they have no choice but to act. Even so, whilst the demonstrations, collectivisations and occupations of this emergency communism are interesting they are not an end in themselves, we must remember the lessons of the self-managed counter-revolution. The workers in Argentina are only keeping the seat warm as everyone awaits the boss's return.

It is not for anarchists to celebrate when 'the people' take over, anarchists ought not to be so amazed at examples of natural ingenuity and resilience, that is after all what they base all their principles on. Unfortunately their proper political task is less appealing and more controversial, it is to poke their fingers into the wounds of revolution, to doubt and to look for ways in which the Zapatistas, FLN, ANC or any other bunch of leftwing heroes will sell out, because they always do. The questions we must ask of civil emergency and economic breakdown, which are the occasions where various social and pro-revolutionary movements appear is how exactly does capital re-establish itself again and again despite the apparent revolutionary intent of the general populace.

If the motorway is ever to fall into disuse then it will do so because of some internal dysfunction, specifically when the costs become too high to maintain it. Cars will come to a halt, the individuals inside will get out and they will walk away not looking back. They will forget instantly the purpose of this architecture which within two years of the cataclysm will fall into the field of archaeology. Anarchists have no role to play in the initial downfall of capitalism, they have no means by which they could escalate costs to the level where profits are put in danger and a crisis is brought on. It is possible that the working class, because its labour is an integral cost of production, could cause a systemic collapse by refusing to improve productivity and by fighting to increase their wages. It is possible that they could bring on a revolution even though their only aim is their own self-interest. They will never overthrow the system by choice because that is a secondary political ambition produced as a mirage by the system itself. If the working class aimed for revolution it would not achieve it since political ambition is a readymade form held within capital's array of determined responses, 'you don't like it then make it better, have a go'. The working class is purely an economic category, it cannot act politically except by accident.

It is significant, we think, that most anti-capitalists have no theory of capitalism or its overthrow other than vague aboriginalism (Palestine for the Palestinians but not Britain for the British?), productivism (small workshops, workers self-management, localism etc) or 'direct democracy' and as such, again in our opinion, the ideas they espouse are really precapitalist albeit for a capitalism with a human face, for a capitalism that is severeiy inhibited by autonomous ethical values (some hope of that). They do not see how all elements within play, including themselves, are determined and contained by capitalist reality and how they produce mere ideological reflections on the same basic productive circuit. Such initiatives whether they are called ethical capitalism or 'socialism in one country' can survive for a while by producing expensive products for a specialised market but then they disappear or simply revert to an uncomplicated adherence to the rules of the all encompassing generality. Isn't this what happened to the communes of the Sixties and Seventies? Basic capitalist reality always reasserts itself at the level of phenomena because its rules dominate the base; rebellion and romanticism on the surface does not impact on the hidden machinery below, eventually it must give way to what pursues it. Rebellion has always been unsustainable.

There are no individual, entrepreneurial, solutions.

Part Three

The anarchists as an ethical body can continue their consumer/lifestyle protest for as long as they have the strength (I, for one, will continue my quixotic struggle to the death or some other finality) and that's fine. It is important to attempt to live the good life, to resist and say no to arbitrary authority but they will never have the necessary force to overthrow capitalism. Revolutionary agency is not the anarchists' appropriate function, this belongs to a non-political proletariat That leaves their true political mission which comes in two parts and is dependent on the accidents of economic events. Firstly, in the present, anarchists must intervene in political debate with the intent of destroying false hopes for reform by showing how proposed solutions alter details but retain trie general social relation. The role of the anarchists is that of the popper of balloons, they must be agents of anti-ideology. They must say what only they can say, they must refuse the script written for them by leftists and liberals - there is nothing to be gained by repeating easy leftwing slogans, truth and not recruitment should be the decisive factor. For example, the only reason to participate in demonstrations against the proposed Iraq war is to subvert the political manoeuvres of the 'anti-war coalition's' popular-front ideology which would use anti-government sentiment to draw power and wealth to itself. Specifically, in this case anarchists must disrupt the proposed anti-imperialism of both Islam and leftism and in the place of their national liberationism and state capitalist wealth redistribution projects they must insert an unequivocal message that rejects all states, religions and nationalisms. Despair and nihilism is a more appropriate response to the prospect of war than calling for an end to US/Israeli imperialism (what, you think they're so democratic that they're going to listen to you?)

In 1983 Kinnock, the leader of the Labour Party was robustly heckled at a CND march by anarchists as a means of demonstrating that there was no common ground between anti-capitalists and bandwaggoners, however at the' recent anti-war demo in London there was no equivalent action against the pro-Palestinian statists and religious maniacs spouting their primitive accumulationist ideologies, why?

The recent tolerance of the ugly for political purposes, this 'we mustn't rock the new left boat' implication means the anarchists have already been sidelined by their leftwing adversaries. If in doubt critique is always more appropriate than affirmation, nothing good has ever been harmed by intelligent doubt whilst current anarchist affirmations of political struggles has severely impeded their own cause. For example, that the message war is always a struggle between competing capitalist elites - all organisations on both sides are pro-capitalist' has not been hammered home as it was not hammered home during the Vietnam War and is/was stifled beneath the absurd sub-nationalist/anti-imperialist propaganda of the left means anarchists end up chanting for 'victory to the Viet Gong' or 'victory to the Palestinians', that is, against their own principles. One thing is more stupid than patriotism for your country and that's patriotism for someone else's country.

There is no earthly reason for parroting 'down with the USA and Israel' or They say cutback we say fightback' when you have already developed a position that is against all states and all governments, and when your theory has established that all national phenomena are organised by the movement of capital. Not only is it dishonest to repeat such trivialities it is bad faith not to properly engage and dispute the propagation of it by others. Anarchists should have no time to tolerate other ideologies on protest marches. If it is not (as it cannot be) their role to overthrow capital then it is certainly up to them to dispel the myths of their fellow protesters. The hundreds of thousands of sheep-like followers not really sure why they are there all yearn to be free of their ridiculous beliefs, let them at least be relieved of their leaders.

If as an anarchist you have said you are against capital then it means you are already against war, it is the 'against capital' bit that is important, not your feelings for this arbitrary incident of the moment. During every public manifestation you must show the determination of war by capital and not, as the popular front leadership would hope, 'bury our differences' for short term political expediency in the name of unity. Anarchists must say what only anarchists can say, it is important to remain true to theoretical positions and not get caught up in apparent resurgences of popular dissent. Even if there were only ten anarchists left uncomprornised so long as they kept to their principles they would have a greater impact in critical moments than any phalanx of flag waving activists and their watered down 'popular' anti-capitalism.

Anarchists must undermine faith in all proposed solutions to war, repression, cheap labour etc and not promote their own. They must demonstrate how rubbish all left wing solutions really are and how there are no solutions that do not end in compromise with the generality. There is no relief, there is no peace, there is no reform; so long as the system remains there is only intensification of productivity by whatever means and that includes both war and 'people's governments'.

To be against capital in all its forms is sufficient, there is no need to tack a Utopia at the end as some kind of golden handshake, all such solutions smack of religious falsity. To say 'we want a better world free of this or that' plays into their hands, it's so easy for politicians to say, 'we agree, we're all working together' when really there is no commonality of interest, the class system from its very origins robs some to pay others. To say 'we are against capitalism in all its forms' is enough. The specifics of what comes next is not ours to propose.

The anarchist role is negative, their aim is the destruction of all exploitative and repressive false hopes. The history of popular fronts from the 30's to the Anti-Nazi-League, to Globalise Resistance shows the 'we all march together’ strategy to be a neutralising force which dissipates resistance to capital and plays down class struggle in favour of a reformist political agenda (eg anti-fascism now, revolution later). The exposure by critique of all ideologies is important because in any revolutionary situation it will be the Trots and the religious nutters who will be trying to take over and it simply makes no sense to be 'uniting' in the present with those organisations that under different circumstances will be out to eliminate you - in organisation terms there is no imperialist like an anti-imperialist.

The second function of the anarchists is highly speculative, and depends upon the collapse of the capitalist system; under these circumstances groups like the anarchists will have more of a say as people generally attempt to re-establish society. There will come a moment during this period of re-organisation when things will either return to the capitalist mode or will go somewhere else entirely (the end of the motorway), it is at this moment that saying and doing the right thing will have profound effect.'

My thoughts had taken me a long way from the motorway bridge at Milton so I was pleased to get back home with the last of winter's light still lingering in the sky. After locking my bike away in the shed I paused before opening the backdoor and listened to the domestic sounds of my family inside, warm, happy and safe. Once more the image of the motorway returned to my mind, I thought of its strange black dominance of the ground beneath our feet and I muttered to myself, 'there is no hope, is that why I'm so optimistic?' I felt strangely exhilarated like a saint-knight of the errant fraternity, I may never succeed but at least I have remained true. I opened the door, 'get the kettle on love, I've been philosophising fierce.'

January 2003 Monsieur Dupont

Such a beautiful text requires responses. To those who will not respond, or respond honestly, for their own, sadly transparent, reasons, we send a true kiss to your lips which speaks of the vanity, sloth, and fearfulness of .humankind, and forgiveness, of course, forgiveness. We cannot contain our gentle, and annoying laughter, it escapes wisp-like and lingers over church spires and the meeting rooms you use. Blindly blindly we hurry to our solidified old age, refusing to look at ourselves, and thereby the world, when merrily merrily, and open-hearted, we should skip erelong into the black lake that is life and deaths knowing we have lived and in what manner we have lived.
If you want to read more from Monsieur Dupont let us know.


Dear Freedom?

Dear Freedom editorial group,
Thank you for your letter of the 28/11/02. Sorry for the delay in replying, but better late than never. One of the most annoying characteristics of Monsieur Dupont is the insistence on engagement, we always reply and more than that, we only reply. Our engagement is grounded in the practice of critique, we take someone else's words or some event minor or major and begin from there - in other words we attempt to exist on other people's ground. We have purposely given up producing our own journal, we do not have a website etc - our intention is always to supply ideas (and copy of the highest quality) to others. Strangely, the editors of radical publications are not very keen on publishing our work, we speculate that what we do is too ambivalent, not propagandistic enough, too controversial and, most fundamentally, does not praise the heroic figure of the anarchist revolutionary. Because we are ridiculous we see it equally in others of our type but these others, apparently, are not so keen to see our mutual absurdity. Our interrogation of the editorial process of radical free communist and anarchist publications by means of correspondence, engagement with stated 'aims and principles' and so on has resulted in our becoming the most reviled or deliberately ignored prolific writers of the milieu. There are literally hundreds of submitted but unpublished pages of MD's interventions, so many in fact that one of our reasons for continued existence is to map out precisely the boundaries of what is publishable in libertarian land. For example, certain elements of anarchist principles are unpublishable or are not publishable with reference to certain issues, this is particularly true in the case of 'anti-imperialism', a leftist theory that complements the Leninist notion that third world nations are the proletariat of the world and their struggle against the bourgeois nations of the west is the prerequisite of world revolution. Complete nonsense, as all anarchists would agree and yet we used to see a lot of this sort of stuff concerning Ireland in the likes of Black Flag, and now it is creeping back again with reference to Palestine. A few months back Nick S. got his knuckles rapped and then disappeared from your [ Freedom's ] pages over his outrageously pro-Palestinian views and now, on the 25/1/03, you give similar space to the nationalist views of Jose Marti who uses the Leninist retreat from class struggle to defend Palestinian para-militarism. He thinks we are morally obliged to support the struggles of oppressed peoples (this includes apparently endorsing the establishment of Islamic societies). We wonder if you see the lesson of this? We'll spell it out even though it means spending yet more of our time teaching anarchist dogs how to bark anarchistically - it is apparently acceptable for all current anarchist publications to publish nationalist rhetoric of this kind because it is the trendy cause of the moment and we all agree with it right? There's a consensus. But whoa, hold on a cottonpicking minute, why are the anarchists in such a rush to endorse the arch-bourgeois ideological form nationalism? Whether Palestinians achieve their national autonomy or not is no concern of anarchists because our class consciousness is absolutely grounded in our collective rejection of the notion of the concept of 'peoples', there are no such things as 'peoples', it's just a representation, what about the women arid children, the tribal groups, the sexualities and most importantly what about class division? There is no more common ground between the nascent bourgeoisie of Hamas or the PLO and the Palestinian working class than there is between British workers and the Mike Baldwin's (small business people/emerging business people) down our way.

It is not the job of anarchists to repeat the formulae of Leninism just because they're too scared or too theoretically unprepared to go against it

The only anarchist message to Palestinian workers has to be 'smash Palestine', because it is precisely the ideology of nationalist that will lead them to disaster.

If the anarchist response to nationalism is not an unequivocal denunciation then what is left of anarchism?

Above all anarchists should never find themselves in the position of supporting nationalism, understanding it, yes, excusing it, no. Similarly, there is currently an ongoing anarchist campaign against Christianity, fine, but why not against all religions?

The pro-revolutionary role of the anarchist is to say only that which an anarchist can say, sometimes this means utter marginalisation in the present and perhaps for ever, but there is a chance that the lone, negative voice may have a profound impact in some unforeseen future, when conditions have changed.

This is the guiding principle of MD's policy of engagement, we understand that people argue most ferociously for their oppressed condition just when that condition is most subject to a crisis - we cannot stop writing just because it is unfashionable to do so. Nobody will ever agree with MD, we are too cocky, but later we hope the portion of truth that we have uncovered will make its weight felt.

We realise that [for Freedom or any other anarchist/communist publication or group] to push an anti-anti-imperialist line might be daunting, there may be consequences with subscriptions [or attracting 'members'] and so on, but this is the kind of mess you get into if you sideline theory [listen to this one more time all you anarchist groups, class struggle groups, anarchist federations, etc]. You have to know where you stand on basic principles, you cannot allow your pages to be dominated by positions basically hostile to your own otherwise this anarchist fortnightly that you publish does not do what it says it does on the tin - and if there are non-anarchists in your editorial group (and the general drift away from anarchist principles seems to suggest this) then they should be expelled.

We suggest that a policy of honesty, openness, courage and truth should be practised at all times, even if it is at the expense of the spurious project of building the movement. Intelligence is always negative, which implies that we should always be critical of ourselves and the milieu, this is the only means of improvement of our ideas and practice (you know, some lovelies in the anarchist milieu don't even reply to letters? And I am reminded of this awful fact as I am looking out on a snow covered scene and people are out there with no radical ideas at all and they're sweeping the pavement in front of their houses, going to the shops for their housebound neighbours - it seems anarchists have got a long way to go before they become human). All there is for us is engagement and critique, engagement and critique. To reject capital does not mean we have to affirm ourselves, we too have to be swept away by the revolution.

To go on to the points you raised in your letter to us.

1. Thankyou for considering and then rejecting our article.

2. The flippant term we used, 'infotainment', merely referred to Freedom's unquestioned absorption of current presentational style. A style that has been determined by computer technology, particularly that of the internet. We have come to understand that information technology has had a detrimental influence on the revolutionary milieu: whilst the internet is very good at spreading 'information' and facilitating organisation it impedes pro-revolutionary theory, resulting in chaotic phenomena such as Reclaim The Streets which, whilst visually impressive on a small screen actually turns out to have such a confused ideology that it becomes impossible to know what it is incidentally, we see it as equivalent to the radical hippy capitalists who went on to make such a killing on the stockmarkets in the Eighties.

3. When we suggested that you habitually filtered out submissions the grounds of 'form' what we meant was not writing style but the separation of pages into articles. For example, you are prepared to give full pages to accounts of 'situations' in Palestine or Argentina (articles which are no more anarchist in character than those published in the Guardian) or separate an 'issue' such as economics down into three or four 'contributions' regardless of the integrity of the original piece.

4. You say 'we give an article the space we think it deserves', is it the article that deserves it or the writer? It seems some names get considerably more column inches than others. You say there is no 'favoured infotainment style" and yet certain ticks are given the freedom to keep on ticking.

5. You say 'we are always keen to publish original, thought-provoking and non-academic theory'. Well, MD is original, nobody writes like us, MD is thought-provoking, we've been denounced, threatened and abused by most anarchist leaders, and MD is non-academic, the only contact we have with education is dropping our kids off at school. Damn, and we're working class too, oh if only we were studenty post-modernists it would be so much easier to feel smug in dismissing us. As editors are you honestly saying there is no active decision-making going on about the nature of the 'movement' when you choose to print accounts or 'actions' taken by anarchists. Give us a break from anarchist heroes. When was the last time you published a piece that reflected on the function or status of anarchist actions, because we for one don't see any beneficial results of such stunts, neither in the increase of anarchist numbers nor in any harm caused to capital, a harm which is infinitesimal when compared to one day's national strike by railway workers for example.

How did we get to the stage where anarchists are the stars of their own discourse? And furthermore, how did we get to the stage where doubting the significance of 'direct action' and the motivations of those participating is so beyond the pale? Who decided that 'patriotic affirmation' was the only means of proving commitment? The 'wombles' set up a free shop on Oxford Street, London, you report it as front-page news, well, what is the meaning of it? We say this because we note the number of actual activists banging their own drums is tiny when compared to the largely passive readership of your paper, that alone suggests a problem - when so few are given free rein to dictate direction by their own actions. Returning to the 'non-academic' implication of your letter we wonder how many of your published writers are students and academics - by definition their style is academic.

6. You say we cannot reasonably object to you refusing to devote most of an issue to one group's submission. Well of course the paper is already devoted to one group's submission; the editorial group, which by editing the work of others produces what it considers appropriate. We see your mania for 'fitting' articles in to a pre-established framework as a consequence of attempting to address passing current events - but because Freedom is only fortnightly and often reports on happenings three weeks late it is always already behind the game. It would be better to use events to illustrate principles which could in turn be applied to inform strategy and tactics. Also, you seem to gather to yourself the right to use written work as you see fit, without reference to the writer's intention, in other words, you take to yourself the role of the employer. Editorial dictatorship is fine and dandy if you make explicit what your values are but you have always made it your thing that you wish many varying opinions to appear in Freedom, but surely this must involve some negotiation over the nature of appearance of the article and how much is to be cut, we for one do not agree with your printing random paragraphs of our work which can make no sense by themselves. The submissions are made to Freedom to contact others beyond Freedom and not at all for Freedom's glory.

7. You say, submit longer pieces to the Raven but we understood from the pages of Freedom, that this appallingly banal journal has folded - are you suggesting we should write directly to the dead letter office because that is where our pieces end up anyway? If you want you can pass the Raven onto us, we'll name it Great Tit and guarantee it to be filled with vibrant, thought-provoking, non-academic etc contributions. The point is this, by one means or another, and it is mainly mercantile, the anarchist movement is dominated by capital, those who have capital (whether gained through subscriptions or sales) are the ones who have final say over what appears within the anarchist domain - a structured group would not publish an article such as that by Jacques Camatte where he furiously argued that groups were counter-revolutionary mafiosi only interested in perpetuating themselves, and a publishing outfit would not publish a book if it thought it would not sell, even if it knew the contents of the book to be frighteningly true. You have a problem: because you have capital you have to protect it and preserve it, you cannot allow yourself to think, 'what if what we're doing is wrong? Lef s throw it all away and see if the anarchist milieu improves. If all those living on the drip drip of our fortnightly efforts are suddenly cut off maybe they'll get on and do something else.' There comes a moment when a choice has to be made between preservation of the party or striking out in a pro-revolutionary direction which would necessitate the end of the party; but no party has ever rejected itself, such is the bind of economic determination.

8. It seems to us that whilst Freedom contains many articles about anarchism it is not in itself very anarchistic, it does not ask itself: 'what is anarchist writing?' or 'if anarchism is never to be a mass movement what is the role of its minority within the wider revolutionary body' or 'what is the appropriate form for engagement within the milieu?' 'How best to investigate capitalist forms within our forms?" 'Why are anarchist institutions so conservative and so many of the above topics 'out of bounds?"etc. Such a big and exciting project and yet nowhere within the anarchist milieu is it being undertaken except, weakly and pathetically, by Monsieur Dupont - no, apparently we must all carry on on the treadmill of stunts and, as a substitute for theory, simply sign our approval to leftist holy cows.

Monsieur Dupont

More on anti-imperialism

Dear Editors,
It seems that the ideological construct known as imperialism has not yet been adequately dismantled and continues its detrimental effect on anarchist consciousness.

The construct of imperialism as understood by the left did not fall out of the sky, equally its existence as an actual economic/political/military force is not an undisputed fact.

The left wing explanation of imperialism was devised after the Russian Revolution to underpin the Bolshevik's dubious claim to he operating within the proposed developmental framework set out by Marx. The problem addressed was simple and twofold, Russia was not an industrial nation and the Bolsheviks were not an economic class but a political faction. The Leninists explained their apparent deviation from the tenets of Dialectical Materialism through an analysis of what they called Western Imperialism but which anarchists now know to be the geographical dispersal of capital's general conditions (or globalisation). The Bolsheviks argued that Russia and other feudal countries were, when considered in relation to "Western Imperialism', the national equivalent of the proletariat. This spurious analysis over the last eighty years has become the legitimation myth of many subsequent 'national liberation struggles.' It is particularly useful because it provides an easy 'us and them' scenario whilst at the same time mystifying the class aspect of such struggles. Terms such as 'the people' are deployed by the leaders of national liberation to obscure their own class position (always Bourgeois) and their domination over the local peasants and workers they claim to represent. Thus the struggle against the 'alien oppressor" is characterised in terms of cross-class solidarity, and one can readily see the urgent appeal of such strategies - they shut critics up by demanding, 'if you were menaced by the real threat of a foreign jackboot, would it be appropriate to dispute the right of your leaders to lead?' The now familiar disguise of a sectional push for power runs, 'first we must win the war, then it will be time for the revolution,' which means: sometime never and over your dead body comrade. It's as if they would have us believe that 'foreign' capitalists are somehow more offensive than indigenous capitalists, or that local/native exploiters and tyrants are less exploitative and tyrannical. With these arguments 'no war but the class war" doesn't even get close to a class analysis of war, culture and power. The exigency of reaipolitik has always been used to justify not just the emergency measures taken by the 'struggle's' leadership but the position of the leadership itself. So, to the question, 'is now the right time to be criticising the Palestinian Bourgeoisie?' the answer must be, if the answerer is an anarchist, YES. The moment of political crisis is precisely the moment to question all emergency authority because it is in crisis that tyranny establishes itself.

Anarchists explicitly reject bourgeois terror (or Nationalist armed struggle if you like) whether it is embarked upon by the leadership of some romanticised representation of a people (so noble, so hospitable, so horribly oppressed) or whether it is officially state sanctioned. This is because all such struggles have a hidden agenda which operates against the working class, there is no such thing as a shared interest when one owns and the other labours.

Anarchist consciousness states that we live in a period of history which it describes as capitalism (a generalised social relation and source of political power based on economic force) and that capitalism is inherently hostile to human beings because-it re-values everything, including people, into monetary value. It therefore follows that all macro social/political/cultural phenomena including nations, tribes, cultures and people's are both structural expressions of capitalist domination and a phenomenal mystification of it. Anarchists therefore consider that all struggles between nations are really struggles between capitalist factions competing for the right to own the means of production, including the right to own the labour power of 'the people' (Israel wants a cheap labour force, Arafat et al wants a cheap labour force).

There is, under capitalist domination, no such thing as a self-determining nation; neither imperialist states nor 'liberated' states are free of the capitalist order which exists above and within and independently to all established political forms. All capitalist states from America to Palestine are driven by economic imperatives that they cannot control. Anarchists consider it impossible for a nation to act autonomously of economic stimulus, this is in contradistinction to the way that, at a micro level, all of us as individuals retain some part of our lives that is not wholly commodified - and it is from this experience of small freedoms that anarchists infer the fundamental struggle of present existence to be between the interest of capital and the interest of humanity as so many billion individuals-every other issue, language, nation, religion is secondary. Therefore when someone talks of the struggle of a 'people' against 'imperialist aggression' anarchists ought to ask themselves a set of simple questions: 1. does the term the people' include a set of instituted political and religious conventions (because that is not people as anarchists understand it)?; 2. does the term 'the people' include all minorities and sections of the local populace, or are these being subdued and exterminated?; 3. what is the role, background and business interest of the representatives of 'the people'?; 4. in what context is this tragic and moving account of 'the people' in struggle made to appear? Who is telling the story and what is their motive?

This brings us to the rather unpleasant assertions of Jose Marti (22/03/03 The Illusion of Non-violence) who not only wants to shut down disagreement by some mysterious argument (apparently we cannot debate non-violence because Britain is embarking on an imperialist [and not a capitalist] war) but also claims bizarrely that because bourgeois authoritarian Islamic nationalism is the 'only available' ideology then this is the only ideology 'relevant' to Palestinians. Mmmm, might not this sudden shortage in ideology options be down to authoritarian Islamicists slaughtering everyone else? What next, support fascism if it's the only option available?

I don't know what sort of anarchist Jose Marti is but it looks to us like he might belong to the 58th variety, in other words not an anarchist at all. Anarchists must always question and resist all forms of authority and always avoid getting involved in simplified good verses evil arguments. For anarchists there is nothing to choose between the homeland of 'Palestinians' and the homeland of 'Israels' as both are dominated by capitalist production methods and both are promoted by competing economic interests in the mutual struggle for energy security (as if capitalism has ever allowed anybody anywhere in the world the luxury of a 'homeland' free of exploitation). We wonder when anarchist journals continue to grant Jos'e Marti so much space to air his ugly displaced patriotism whether there are actually any anarchists left in the anarchist milieu, or is it yet another case of GK Chesterton style entryism by assorted leftists, each competing to impose his groupuscule's line?

It is appropriate, if there really are any anarchists left, to examine the appearance, promotion and political function of 'national liberation struggles' within the British left. There is little space here, but it seems to us that the leftist call for 'freedom for Palestine' for example, rather than say 'freedom from capitalism for everyone' is firstly down to the left's complete exhaustion of ideas and their inherent control freakery and conservatism, and secondly it appears that they have inextricably invested their ambitions and activities within existing domestic political institutions, in other words, 'if we can convince you that we all vaguely agree that Palestine must be free (and none of us is responsible for the actual details of such a freedom) then there is a chance that you will be so kind as to cast your vote for us.'

In advance,
as always,
of the rest.
Monsieur Dupont


We're all Claire Short now

24/3/03. It must be Chinese year of the headless chicken, that or our boys in the frontline media have done a thwacking good job of hitting dissent for six. Equally, and alas inevitably, the old lefty bleaters who dominate the leadership of the anti-war movement, have made a flippirr" pig's ear of their part in the fiasco. Nevermind that death, criminality, blood, oil, lies, and rebuild-corruption is boiling away nicely in the stewpot - suddenly it seems war really is ok. War is ok and the peace movement has blown it, just as Monsieur Dupont said it would. A veritable torrent of popular disapproval has, five days in, miraculously transformed itself into the regimented whine of 'getting behind the coalition forces'.

The specifics? Well for a start, why, when thousands of autonomous anti-state actions are erupting everywhere, do the protest leadership call for a setpiece rally? Could it be that their most ardent desire is to be applauded by adoring crowds for preaching excruciatingly dippy platitudes? And later perhaps, on a tide of political enlightenment inspired by their leadership, they cherish a hope to be voted in to those very institutions that right now are harmonised in an all out psy-war on our humanity (but only so they can turn theserotten bureaucracies round and make them work for the people, huzzah!) Durr.

Whatever else, this at least is true enough: the biggest wartime demonstration in British history has, in effect, become a gesture of abdication from that field of subterranean power which the peace movement had minutes earlier divined and tapped into. You doubt it? Then think on this, if the peace people had been employed by the state to sabotage popular anti-war sentiment, could they have staged a more successful campaign of disillusionment?

When people are dying in their flipflops because of capital's rush to ensure the security of its long term energy supply only the very politicised could believe that really they have achieved some sort of 'people's' victory and wield massive influence over international events. They must believe because even now they retain a sentimental attachment to the democratic rip off. Their hope is always that the enthusiastic forces they have co-ordinated can be converted into a political presence within existing society. Everybody else, feeling very intimidated, senses a real and brutal sheering off of the populace from the state apparatus and quickly ducking their heads down say, 'me, nah, I always supported the war.'

The failure of the peace movement to theoretically connect the banality of ordinary, everyday life with war, capital, the media and the nature of power proves again how that old race-the-wind hare of the english social revolution remains far in advance of its naive and overly optimistic political leadership, we find ourselves once more back in the unheady days of July '68.

What is essential of current events is the peace movement's total failure to have any impact at all. The failure to impose a democratic will finally (yet another finally) disproves the value of the civil society project. There is no common ground between the people and the state, there is no common interest at all - and if these socialists and greens continue to address their political discourse to existing institutions in the expectation that something can be done then their actions will continue to be valued by those institutions solely as a tool for delivering over potentially resistant positions. Their optimism concerning the neutrality of the state is a religious hand-me-down that continues to drag radical thought away from reality. Why can't activists admit that the existing power structures don't listen and care less. People are controlled by and do not control their world.

Politically uncommitted individuals were initially drawn towards the anti-war position because they sensed its power, they thought that it might function as a vehicle to express something of their own lives. They were wrong. As usual the leadership failed to put the appropriate theoretical tools in their hands but instead fed them bad slogans and ideological nonstarters about the Palestinian state, blood for oil, and American Imperialism. Once again they shied away from pointing the finger at the system of capitalism and at the social institutions which manage the world. They cannot bring themselves to say, for example, 'because we are powerless so the capitalists can use war,' all we got was that old positive thinking, 'together we are powerful, we can change things.' Wrong again, no matter the millions marching, war and capital go on and on, unchanged.

The peace movement's argument is simply not radical enough and the unfortunate consequences of this for all of us is that under present totalitarian conditions such positions are blended into a 'coalition', the elements of which because they agree on something {for example democracy, or the UN or humanitarian aid) are forced by mere proximity to agree on everything (so the Prime Minister is free to quote anti-sanctions arguments to support war). In other words, reformers and moderates, by perpetuating the illusion of the use of capitalist institutions for possible human ends, in practice only legitimise the actual activities of such institutions.

Ordinary people have correctly walked away from the antiwar movement because there was and is, no hope. They, unlike the leadership, saw the terrifying actuality of our situation.

We cannot stop the war, we cannot influence government decisions, we cannot get the necessary facts to make proper decisions, we cannot control capitalism and we cannot hope for protection in law. There is no effective free speech, there is no democracy, there is no escape from the dictates of commodity production. The peace movement blathers about Bush and Blair, or America, or the UN and sovereignty, ft rattles on about individuals and nations but until it acknowledges that this is a war of money waged against all humanity and that war is inherent to a system into which every established institution including the law, the media, the financial institutions and the government is integrated and that ordinary people have no chance of turning it around then it continues to function within the system merely as a. spectacular, irregular but ultimately legitimising fragment.

For us the peace movement's very real failure has been extremely useful, it has exposed things as they really are. It would be a pity if this rare insight and the opportunity it affords of achieving genuinely radical positions in response should be immediately recognised by the depoliticised but lost on the ever-hopeful trudgers of the lost cause.

There is no way forward from, and no way out of, existing conditions. Nobody is going to step in and save us. The most appropriate, and ultimately, most negative response to the world situation is one of despondency, it is therefore logical that this is the mood-position, because it is most at odds with what is asked of us, that pro-revolutionaries should promote.

Monsieur Dupont, March 2003


Something on political 'activism'

Those pebbles taken from the beach are not so pretty now. Without the waves to wet them.

I'll tell you what to do,' he pursued, since Prince Andrei still did not reply. 'I'll tell you what to do, and what I do. Dans le doute, mon cher,' he paused, 'abstiens-toi.' He spoke the words with slow emphasis. 'When in doubt, my dear fellow, do nothing'.

We think revolutionaries fail to recognise the revolutionary subject and mistake their own political activism for proletarian action, we think this is a leadership residue uncritically absorbed from leftist organisation.

Opposed to the figure of the political activist, we champion the figure of the workplace militant The political activist chooses the terrain of its struggle, it chooses to give itself up to the struggle for others, very noble; It is also free, when its energy declines, to deselect the struggle and recline into private frfe. And if revolution were a relay race then the relinquishing of the baton would be an honourable convention but as the race itself is better not run then activism shows itself to be a parallel apparatus of social change, superfluous.

The militant, by contrast, is enmeshed in its workplace, it will never escape, therefore it acts from self-interest, it struggles every minute to protect itself from attack, its every moment is a Houdini squirm from imposition. The workplace militant, without too much thought, understands that capital is resisted more effectively by not doing what is required, literally in doing nothing, than by activist initiative.

The lead-by-example activist sets up actions which, regardless of explicit radical content and extremity of form, nonetheless retain phosphorescent genes that emit a glow of bourgeois moral behaviour. Doing something, for the bourgeois actant is always doing something on behalf of present social organisation. Political refusal of details, issues, principles, causes, is almost without exception an affirmation of the generality.

We are not so slow as to invest our hope in the militant personality, we are not that desperate to believe. Contrariwise we turn our face towards passivity, we observe grains of sand becoming a weight, an expanse of non-commitment and slipping cliffs. We turn our face to what is not happening. The flaw in heroic militantism is precisely the condition of its appearance, the seemingly routine absence of militancy in the masses. Where the militant stands as the name of resistance there you will find the turning away of others, that and nascent rivalries for the post of workers' representative.

Revolutionary action belongs to those capable of realising it, precisely those workers who best survive in present conditions without losing their humanity, preserving their dignity in the heat of exploitation, adapting to but not submitting to external forces. Without the dune-ish shift of ordinary people into the logic of social transformation there can be no change - but they are not to be appealed to, they are not to be pummelled, they heed no promises; they carry on turning up, doing their hours, going home, absenting themselves from the social stage. In contrast the militant who flies off the handle now, true to the pull of its crumbling self, will be unpredictable in the moment of other people's crisis - the final motive is not so much political as personal. Individual extremism, radical posturing, does not signal subjective authenticity but the singing blade presence of objective tyranny cutting to the quick. The militant unit is the first to give out under pressure, it cannot bear either the truth of its predicament or the loneliness that this consciousness brings - resistance belongs to the body not the mind. We recognise the figures of coping and practicality but those who embody them are pigheaded, our recognition is no more appealing to them than any other tatty bauble to be found at the back of the drawer marked revolutionary consciousness.

In the event
the story is, foretold,
foremade in the code of its happening.

We reject the notion that the proletariat may become politicised or recruited through the promotion of political issues, its self-interest is the only political issue. We reject the notion of political consciousness, the positive value invested in the action on the many by the few. If we are saying that political consciousness is the grip of some vice then we mean it is a form' of capture, it is intended and part of a power struggle not an accident of nature. We do not wish to free our minds or let go, we do not seek peace, calm or balance. We are interested only in the listing of weapons present in the field, how many teeth, and whether they're barbed. Consciousness is a weapon, it is effective only when deployed against politicised groups and individuals, those who have taken a side. It is activated by recruitment, it is a coagulation agent that thickens values into a crusty shell, inside, the recruited unit produces for the organisation to which it has been bound.

The Crocodile appreciates consciousness in others, it is the original headhunted It does not begin with the legs and move up, it does not go for the belly and risk prolonged struggle; to be certain and to end it quickly it snaps shut on the head only; the head is an animal's signature, and the crocodile is eager for closure. In this way a crocodile will let pass any amount of legs so as not to miss the head bent down to drink. But only in a world perpetually standing on its head would the crocodile be considered revolutionary rather than being part of, let's say, nature's way.

History has not moved on, conditions have not altered. Basic social forms are not mutating. Behind the frenzy and the noise all is still, all is quiet. We get the same events coming up over and over. None of the components of the social field have been used up, even if some of them are buried for long periods, they must return, inevitably squeezed back to the surface under pressure of revolving circumstance. Unchanging conditions supply unchanged output.

In the refusal of consciousness we discover that meanings and therefore social directions are not pumped arterially from this urgent heart to that airless brain but are plucked from the breaking crust of events by any body in the field. Revolutionary activity is sometimes an archaeology of what has been deliberately forgotten but we should not forget the objective movement of revolutionary fragments, events will throw up the necessary artifacts from the belly of the earth. Every event holds its idea, the idea appropriate to itself. And events are scattered in society like pumice over Pompeii.

We do not despair because the plough has uncovered Irttle of late besides old roots and worms, food for the crows not revolutionaries; does this impoverishment mark the end of history? Maybe, but tomorrow in the same field, who knows? The plough will pass again.

All political formulations of motive are false if they neglect essence of capitalism and so the ground of social existence – the exploitation of labour. We are not moved to agitate for the recognition of issues because all issues end either in revolutionary class analysis or containment within state forms. The liberation movements forged within the specializations of sexual, racial, ethnic or cultural identities do not concern us as they aim for recognition by the state; we have no interest in campaigns on nuclear bombs, or colonial exploitation; we do not believe in the preservations of working class traditions. We are in no position to act in defense of the values we cherish nor to attack those we revile – all strategic formulations in the political field functions within conditions already set: the victory of equal rights countenances exploitation, the triumphant end of deforestation would legitimize international alliances, the end of conscription autonomised the military – every campaign won actualizes capital’s universality as a neutral backdrop. Capitalism without the exploitation of humanity as labour is not possible, but anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-colonial capitalism is now an explicit project. Green capitalism is feasible. Bossless, self-managed capitalism is feasible, Capitalism without starvation is feasible. Capitalism without war is feasible. If social activists consider these causes worthwhile, then by all means they should activism for their implementation. If these same activists claim to be revolutionaries then there is a contradiction at the heart of their project between the impulse to reform the character of exploitation and its complete overthraw. Perhaps they forget the means by which details appear within a general context of social relations. For us, the improvement of capitalism has little significance except perhaps in personal life. Reform issues encompass what the ruling class is willing to negotiate, precisely that which does not threaten its position; why else would such causes be so enthusiastically resuscitated?

The bestowing of a human face on capitalism has historical precedents - universal suffrage a century ago was readily given when it demonstrated, as the necessary myth, a capacity to deliver the maximisation of social integration and therefore improve productive efficiency. Now we find ourselves in a similar position, too many social revolutionaries are busy affirming the details of possiblist reforms whilst forgetting their own negative position to the whole. All causes won are won only in the present, they must decay into defeat, they are soon reversed or modified, or become meaningless, a mockery. Must we defend every piecemeal reform? And for how long? Must we struggle for new ones? We are suspicious of all concessions when they are painted in the colours of progress.

We insist that the working class may uncover their power only through resistance to capitalism as they directly experience it at work. Only those already enmeshed in the production process have the necessary proximity, energy and self-interest to stop it. We do not renounce revolutionary activity, why would we draw a circle round ourselves? But we are uncertain of the status of our actions. We do not say revolutionaries are irrelevant, we do not claim the working class can do it by themselves, as if we were not part of the working class. But we do see that too much explicitly revolutionary activity is arbitrarily constituted and hastily directed at the political sphere, as if revolution were in mere competition with other ideologies; we have enjoyed the anti-capitalist protest circus as a manifestation of some discontent but we can also see that whilst it connects objectively to examples of the problem, capitalist corporations, it does not demonstrate any significant engagement with the solution, that is the inevitable revolutionary subject.

As we imagine ourselves to be bom unto an ice age we should not be surprised to encounter the contents of the world as frozen.

Everything we, as revolutionaries, contribute to the struggle against present conditions ends as an offering left upon the altar of our conditions.

Doing nothing is not an exception, it is only that it is less productive.

We learn from the law of no exceptions, the law of the orbiting of everything, that revolution comes from other planets.

Monsieur Dupont
A day in a month... years ago