It is easy to hit a bird flying in a straight line.
Not only do we desire to change our lives immediately, it is the criterion by which we are seeking our accomplices. The same goes for what one might call a need for coherency. The will to live one’s ideas and create theory starting from one’s own life is not a search for the exemplary or the hierarchical, paternalistic side of the same coin. It is the refusal of all ideology, including that of pleasure. We set ourselves apart from those who content themselves with areas they manage to carve out—and safeguard—for themselves in this society even before we begin to think, by the very way we palpate our existence. But we feel just as far removed from those who would like to desert daily normality and put their faith in the mythology of clandestinity and combat organisations, locking themselves up in other cages. No role, no matter how much it puts one at risk in terms of the law, can take the place of the real changing of relations. There is no short-cut, no immediate leap into the elsewhere. The revolution is not a war.
In the past the inauspicious ideology of arms transformed the need for coherence of the few into the gregariousness of the many. May arms finally turn themselves against ideology!
An individual with a passion for social upheaval and a ‘personal’ vision of the class clash wants to do something immediately. If he or she analyses the transformation of capital and the State it is in order to attack them, certainly not so as to be able to go to sleep with clearer ideas. If they have not introjected the prohibitions and distinctions of the prevailing law and morals, they draw up the rules of their own game, using every instrument possible. Contrary to the writer or the soldier for whom these are professional affairs so have a mercantile identity, the pen and the revolver are equally arms for them. The subversive remains subversive even without pen or gun, so long as he possesses the weapon that contains all the others: his own resoluteness.
‘Armed struggle’ is a strategy that could be put at the service of any project. The guerrilla is still used today by organisations whose programmes are substantially social democratic; they simply support their demands with military practice. Politics can also be done with arms. In any negotiation with power—that is, any relationship that maintains the latter as interlocutor, be it even as adversary—the negotiators must present themselves as a representative force. From this perspective, representing a social reality means reducing it to one’s own organisation. The armed clash must not spread spontaneously but be linked to the various phases of negotiation. The organisation will manage the results. Relations among members of the organisation and between the latter and the rest of the world reflect what an authoritarian programme is: they take hierarchy and obedience seriously.
The problem is not all that different for those aiming for the violent conquest of political power. It is a question of propagandising one’s strength as a vanguard capable of directing the revolutionary movement. ‘Armed struggle’ is presented as the superior form of social struggle. Whoever is more militarily representative—thanks to the spectacular success of the actions—constitutes the authentic armed party. The staged trials and people’s tribunals that result are acts of those who want to put themselves in place of the State.
For its part, the State has every interest in reducing the revolutionary threat to a few combatant organisations in order to transform subversion into a clash between two armies: the institutions on the one hand, the armed party on the other. What power fears most is anonymous, generalised rebellion. The media image of the ‘terrorist’ works hand in hand with the police in the defence of social peace. No matter whether the citizen applauds or is scared he is still a citizen, i.e., a spectator.
The reformist embellishment of the existent feeds armed mythology, producing the false alternative between legal and clandestine politics. It suffices to note how many left democrats are sincerely moved by the figure of the guerrilla in Mexico and Latin America. Passivity requires advisors and specialists. When it is disappointed by the traditional ones it lines up behind the new.
An armed organisation—with a programme and a monogram—specific to revolutionaries, can certainly have libertarian characteristics, just as the social revolution desired by many anarchists is undoubtedly also an ‘armed struggle’. But is that enough?
If we recognise the need to organise the armed deed during the insurrectional clash, if we support the possibility of attacking the structures and men of power from this minute on, and consider the horizontal linking of affinity groups in practices of revolt to be decisive, we are criticising the perspective of those who see armed action as the transcendence of the limits of social struggles, attributing a superior role to one form of struggle. Moreover, by the use of monograms and programmes we see the creation of an identity that separates revolutionaries from the rest of the exploited, making them visible to power and putting them in a condition that lends itself to representation. In this way the armed attack is no longer just one of the many instruments of one’s liberation, but is charged with a symbolic value and tends to appropriate anonymous rebellion to its own ends. The informal organisation as a fact linked to the temporary aspect of struggles becomes a permanent and formalised decision-making structure. In this way what was an occasion for meeting in one’s projects becomes a veritable project in itself. The organisation begins to desire to reproduce itself, exactly like the quantitative reformist structures do. Inevitably the sad trousseau of communiques and documents appear, where one raises one’s voice and finds oneself chasing an identity that exists only because it has been declared. Actions of attack that are quite similar to other simply anonymous ones come to represent who knows what qualitative leap in revolutionary practice. The schema of politics reappears as one starts flying in a straight line.
Of course, the need to organise is something that can always accompany subversives’ practice beyond the temporary requirements of a struggle. But in order to organise oneself there is a need for living, concrete agreements, not an image in search of spotlights.
The secret of the subversive game is the capacity to smash deforming mirrors and find oneself face to face with one’s own nakedness. Organisation is the whole of the projects that make this game come alive. All the rest is political prosthesis and nothing else.
Insurrection is far more than ‘armed struggle’, because during it the generalised clash is at one with the upsetting of the social order. The old world is upturned to the extent to which the insurgent exploited are all armed. Only then are arms not the separate expression of some vanguard, the monopoly of the bosses and bureaucrats of the future, but the concrete condition of the revolutionary feast: the collective possibility of widening and defending the transformation of social relations. Subversive practice is even less ‘armed struggle’ in the absence of the insurrectional rupture, unless one wants to restrict the immensity of one’s passions to no more than a few instruments. It is a question of contenting oneself with preestablished roles, or seeking coherency in the most remote point, life.
Then, in the spreading revolt we will really be able to perceive a marvellous conspiracy of egos aimed at creating a society without bosses or dormant. A society of free and unique individuals.