From Ad Busters CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective, – Radicals often think they are out in a wasteland, disconnected from society, when in fact they are its cutting edge – though not necessarily moving toward the goals they espouse. Resistance is the motor of history: it drives social, political and technological developments, forcing the prevailing order to innovate constantly in order to outflank or absorb opposition. Thus we can contribute to tremendous transformations without ever achieving our object.
This is not to credit radicals with the agency to determine world events, so much as to assert that we often find ourselves unconsciously on their cusp. Measured against the infinities of history, all agency is infinitesimal – but the very notion of political theory presumes that it is still possible to utilize this agency meaningfully.
When we strategize for individual campaigns, we must take care not to make demands that can be defused by partial reforms, lest our oppressors neutralize us by simply granting them. Some examples of easily co-opted radical programs are so obvious that it is practically vulgar to point them out: bicycle fetishism, “sustainable” technology, “buying local” and all other forms of ethical consumerism that mitigate the suffering caused by global capitalism without challenging its roots.
But this phenomenon can also occur on a structural level. We should look at the ways our calls for social change took place without shaking the foundations of capitalism and hierarchy – so that next time our efforts can take us all the way.
Today it must become a line of flight out of a collapsing world.
Not Working – Did It Work?
The defining provocation of our early years was to take up, literally, the Situationists’ dictum, NEVER WORK. A few of us decided to test out on our own skin whether this was actually possible. This bit of bravado showed us all the genius of untutored youth, and all the perils. Though countless others had trodden this road before, for us it was as if we were the first primates to be shot into space. In any case, we were doing something, taking the dream of revolution seriously as a project one might initiate in one’s own life immediately, with – as we used to say – an aristocratic disdain for consequences.
It’s tempting to brush this off as mere performance art. Yet we have to understand it as an early attempt to answer the question that still faces would-be revolutionaries in the US and Western Europe: What could we interrupt with our (dis)obedience? Contemporary insurrectionists are attempting to address this same question, though the answers many of them offer are equally limited. By themselves, neither voluntary unemployment nor gratuitous vandalism seem to be capable of jerking society into a revolutionary situation. Despite everything, we stand by our initial hunch that it will take a new way of living to bring about such a situation. The essential fabric of our society – the curtain that stands between us and another world – is above all the good behavior of exploited and excluded alike. Continue reading Global Battle for the Soul of Humanity A primer for the road ahead.