Wednesday, 31 March 2010
(NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: LET'S NOW GIVE THE TEXT THAT IS BEING SO HARSHLY CRITICISED ONE CHANCE TO STAND FOR ITSELF... THERE IT GOES)
The triumph of civilisation lacks nothing.
Neither political terror nor affective poverty.
Nor universal sterility.
The desert cannot grow anymore: it is everywhere.
But it can still deepen.
Faced with the evidence of the catastrophe,
there are those who get indignant and those
who take note,
those who denounce and those who get organised.
We are among those who get organised.
This is a call. That is to say it aims at those who
can hear it. The question is not to demonstrate, to
argue, to convince. We will go straight to the evident.
The evident is not primarily a matter of logic or
It attaches to the sensible, to worlds.
There is an evident to every world.
The evident is what is held in common
or what sets apart.
After which communication becomes possible again,
communication which is no longer presupposed,
which is to be built.
And this network of evidents that constitute us, we
have been taught so well to doubt it, to avoid it, to
conceal it, to keep it to ourselves. We have been so
well taught, that we cannot find the words when we
want to shout.
As for the reigning order, everyone knows what it
that a dying social system has no other justification to
its arbitrary nature but its absurd determination – its
senile determination – to simply linger on;
that the police, global or national, have got a free hand
to get rid of those who do not toe the line;
that civilisation, wounded in its heart, no longer encounters anything but its own limits in the endless
war it has begun;
that this headlong flight, already almost a century
old, produces nothing but a series of increasingly
that the mass of humans deal with this order of things
by means of lies, cynicism, brutalisation or medication;
— these things no one can claim to ignore.
And the sport that consists in endlessly describing the
present disaster, with a varying degree of complaisance,
is just another way of saying: “that’s the way it
is”; the prize of infamy going to the journalists, to all
those who pretend to rediscover every morning the
misery and corruption they noticed the day before.
But what is most striking, for the time being, is not
the arrogance of empire, but rather the weakness of the
counter-attack. Like a colossal paralysis. A mass paralysis.
Which will sometimes say – when it still speaks –
that there is nothing to do, sometimes concede – when
pushed to its limit – that “there is so much to do”.
Which is to say the same thing.
Then, on the fringe of this paralysis, there is the “something,
anything, has to be done” of the activists.
Seattle, Prague, Genoa, the struggle against gm or the movements of the unemployed, we have played our
part, we have taken sides in the struggles of these last
years; and certainly not the side of att ac or the Tute
The folklore of protests no longer entertains us.
In the last decade, we have seen the dull monologue of
Marxism-Leninism regurgitate from still juvenile mouths.
We have seen the purest anarchism negate also what it
We have seen the most tedious economism – that of
Le Monde Diplomatique – becoming the new popular
religion. And Negriism imposing itself as the only alternative
to the intellectual rout of the global left.
Leftist militantism has everywhere gone back to raising
its tottering constructions, its depressive networks, until
It took no more than three years for the cops, unions,
and other informal bureaucracies to dismantle the
short-lived “anti-globalisation movement”. To control
it. To divide it into separate “areas of struggle”, each as
profitable as it is sterile.
In these times, from Davos to Porto Alegre, from the
medef to the cnt, capitalism and anti-capitalism describe
the same absent horizon. The same truncated prospect of managing the disaster.
What eventually opposes this prevailing desolation is
merely another desolation, just one that is not as wellstocked.
Everywhere there is the same idiotic idea of happiness.
The same games of power that are paralysed with fear.
The same disarming superficiality. The same emotional
illiteracy. The same desert.
We say that these times are a desert, and that this desert
incessantly deepens. This is no poetic device, it is evident.
An evident which harbours many others. Notably
the rupture with all that protests, all that denounces, and
all that glosses over the disaster.
Whoever denounces exempts themselves.
Everything appears as if leftists were accumulating reasons
to revolt the same way a manager accumulates the
means to dominate. That is to say with the same delight.
The desert is the progressive depopulation of world s –
the habit we have adopted to live as if we were not of
this world. The desert is present in the continuous,
massive and programmed proletarianisation of populations,
just as it is present in the suburban sprawl of
Florida, where the misery lies precisely in the fact that
no one seems to feel it.
That the desert of our time is not perceived only
makes it harsher.
Some have tried to name the desert. To point out what
has to be fought not as the action of a foreign agent
but as a sum of relations. They talked about spectacle,
biopower or empire. But this also added to the current
The spectacle is not an easy abbreviation for the massmedia.
It lies as much in the cruelty with which everything
endlessly throws us back to our own image.
Biopower is not a synonym for social security, the
welfare state or the pharmaceutical industry, but it
lodges itself in the care that we take of our
pretty bodies, in a certain physical estrangement to
oneself as well as to others.
Empire is not some kind of extraterrestrial entity, a
worldwide conspiracy of governments, financial networks,
technocrats, and multinational corporations.
Empire is everywhere nothing is happening.
Everywhere things are working. Wherever the normal
By dint of seeing the enemy as a subject that faces
us – instead of feeling it as a relationship that holds us
– we confine ourselves to the struggle against confinement.
We reproduce under the pretext of an “alternative”
the worst kind of dominant relationships. We
start selling as a commodity the very struggle against
the commodity. Hence we get the authorities of the anti-authoritarian struggle, chauvinist feminism, and
At every moment we are taking part in a situation.
Within a situation there are no subjects and objects – I
and the other, my desires and reality – only a sum of
relationships, a sum of the flows that traverse it.
There is a general context – capitalism, civilisation,
empire, call it what you wish – that not only intends to
control each situation but, even worse, tries to make
sure that there is, as often as possible, no situation.
The streets and the houses, the language and the affects,
and the worldwide tempo that sets the pace of it
all, have been adjusted for that purpose only. Worlds are
everywhere calibrated to slide by or ignore each other.
The “normal situation” is this absence of situation.
To get organised means: to start from the situation
and not dismiss it. To take sides within it. Weaving
the necessary material, affective and political solidarities.
This is what any strike does in any office, in any
factory. This is what any gang does. Any revolutionary
or counter-revolutionary party.
To get organised means: to give substance to the situation.
Making it real, tangible.
Reality is not capitalist.
The position within a situation determines the need
to forge alliances, and for that purpose to establish some lines of communication, some wider circulation.
In turn those new links reconfigure the situation.
The name we give to the situation that we are in is
“world civil war”. For there is no longer anything that
can limit the confrontation between the opposing
forces. Not even law, which comes into play as one
more form of the generalised confrontation.
The ‘we’ that speaks here is not a delimitable, isolated
we, the we of a group. It is the we of a position. In these
times this position is asserted as a double secession:
secession first with the process of capitalist valorisation;
then secession with all the sterility entailed by
a mere opposition to empire, extra-parliamentary or
otherwise; thus a secession with the left. Here “secession”
means less a practical refusal to communicate
than a disposition to forms of communication so intense
that, when put into practice, they snatch from
the enemy most of its force.
To put it briefly, such a position refers to the force
of irruption of the Black Panthers and the collective
canteens of the German Autonomen, to the tree houses
and art of sabotage of the British neo-luddites, to the
careful choice of words of the radical feminists, to the
mass self-reductions of the Italian autonomists, and
the armed joy of the June 2nd Movement.
From now on all friendship is political.
The unlimited escalation of control is a hopeless
response to the predictable breakdowns of the
system. Nothing that is expressed in the known
distribution of political identities is able to lead
beyond the disaster.
Therefore, we begin by withdrawing from them.
We contest nothing, we demand nothing. We
constitute ourselves as a force, as a material force,
as an autonomous material force within the world
civil war. This call sets out the conditions.
Here a new weapon of crowd dispersal, a kind
of fragmentation grenade made of wood, is
being subjected to live field tests. Meanwhile – in
Oregon – demonstrators blocking traffic face sentences
of twenty-five years imprisonment. In the
field of urban pacification the Israeli army is becoming
the most prominent consultant. Experts
from all over the world rush to marvel at the latest,
most formidable and subtle findings in anti-subversive
technology. It would appear that the art of
wounding – wounding one to scare a hundred – has
reached untold summits. And then there is “terrorism”.
That is to say, according to the European
Commission: “any offence committed intentionally
by an individual or a group against one or several
countries, their institutions or their populations,
and aiming at threatening them and seriously undermining
or destroying the political, economic or
social structures of a country.” In the United States
there are more prisoners than farmers.
As it is reorganised and progressively recaptured,
public space is covered with cameras. Not only is
any surveillance now possible, it has become acceptable.
All sorts of lists of “suspects” circulate from
department to department, and we can scarcely guess their probable uses. The social space once
traversed by flâneurs is now militarily marked and
sealed, and its ties of chatter and gossip have been
transformed into recriminate whispers, the substance
of new micro-legal constraints. In the uk
the Anti Social Behaviour Orders have turned the
most petty disputes among neighbours into personally
tailored edicts of exile, banishing a marked
individual from a street corner or proscribing the
wearing of hooded tops within a specific zone.
Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police, working with
members of the special forces, pursue their campaign
against terror with a series of “mistaken”
shootings. A former head of the cia, one of those
people who, on the opposing side, get organised rather
than get indignant, writes in Le Monde: “More
than a war against terrorism, what is at stake is the
extension of democracy to the parts of the [Arab
and Muslim] world that threaten liberal civilisation.
For the construction and the defence of which
we have worked throughout the 20th century, during
the First, and then the Second World War, followed
by the Cold War – or Third World War.”
Nothing in this shocks us; nothing catches us unawares
or radically alters our feeling towards life. We were born inside the catastrophe and with it we
have drawn up a strange and peaceable relation of
Almost an intimacy. For as long as we can remember
we have received no news other than that of
the world civil war.
We have been raised as survivors, as surviving machines.
We have been raised with the idea that life
consisted in walking; walking until you collapse
among other bodies that walk identically, stumble,
and then collapse in turn in indifference. Ultimately
the only novelty of the present times is
that none of this can be hidden anymore, that in
a sense everyone knows it. Hence the most recent
hardening of the system: its inner workings are
plain, it would be useless to try and conjure them
Many wonder how no part of the left or far-left,
that none of the known political forces, is capable
of opposing this course of events. “But we live in
a democracy, right?” They can go on wondering
as long as they like: nothing that is expressed in
the framework of politics will ever be able to limit
the advance of the desert, because politics is part
of the desert.
We do not say this in order to advocate some ex-tra-parliamentary politics as an antidote to liberal
democracy. The popular manifesto “We are the
Left”, signed a couple of years ago by all the citizen
collectives and “social movements” to be found
in France, expresses well enough the logic that has
for thirty years driven extra-parliamentary politics:
we do not want to seize power, overthrow the
state, etc.; so we want it to recognise us as valid
Wherever the classical conception of politics prevails,
prevails the same impotence in front of the
disaster. That this impotence is widely distributed
between a variety of eventually reconcilable identities
does not make the slightest difference. The
anarchist from the fa, the council communist, the
Trotskyist from att ac and the Republican Congressman
start from the same amputation, propagate
the same desert.
Politics, for them, is what is settled, said, done,
decided between men. The assembly that gathers
them all, that gathers all human beings in abstraction
from their respective worlds, forms the ideal political
circumstance. The economy, the economic
sphere, ensues logically: as a necessary and impossible
management of all that was left at the door of the assembly, of all that was constituted, thus,
as non-political and so becomes subsequently: family,
business, private life, leisure, passions, culture,
That is how the classical definition of politics
spreads the desert: by abstracting humans from
their worlds, by disconnecting them from the
network of things, habits, words, fetishes, affects,
places, solidarities that make up their world, their
sensible world, and that gives them their specific
Classical politics is the glorious stagecraft of bodies
without worlds. But the theatrical assembly
of political individualities cannot mask the desert
that it is. There is no human society separated from
the sum of beings. There is a plurality of worlds.
Of worlds that are all the more real because they
are shared. And that coexist.
The political, in truth, is the play between the different
worlds, the alliance between those that are
compatible and the confrontation between those
that are irreconcilable.
Therefore we say that the central political fact
of the last thirty years went unnoticed. Because
it took place at such a deep level of reality that it cannot be considered as “political” without bringing
about a revolution in the very notion of the
political. Because this level of reality is also the
one where the division is elaborated between what
is regarded as real and what is not. This central
fact is the triumph of existential liberalism. The
fact that it is now considered natural for everyone
to relate to the world on the basis of his own
distinct life. That life consists in a series of choices,
good or bad. That each one can be defined by a set
of qualities, of properties, that make him or her, by
their variable weighting, a sole and irreplaceable
being. That the idea of the contract adequately
epitomises the relations of commitment between
individuals, and the idea of respect epitomises all
virtue. That language is only a tool to come to an
That the world is composed on the one hand of
things to manage and on the other of an ocean
of atomic individuals. Which in turn have an unfortunate
tendency to turn into things, by letting
themselves get managed.
Of course, cynicism is only one of the possible features
of the infinite clinical picture of existential
liberalism. It also includes depression, apathy, im-munodeficiency (every immune system is intrinsically
collective), dishonesty, judicial harassment,
chronic dissatisfaction, denied attachments, isolation,
illusions of citizenship and the loss of all
Existential liberalism has propagated its desert so
well that in the end even the most sincere leftists
express their utopia in its own terms. “We will rebuild
an egalitarian society to which each makes
his or her contribution and from which each gets
the satisfactions he expects from it. [...] As far as
individual desires are concerned, it could be egalitarian
if each consumes in proportion to the efforts
he or she is ready to contribute. Here again the
method of measurement of the effort contributed
by each will have to be redefined.” This is the language
chosen by the organisers of the “alternative,
anti-capitalist, and anti-war village” against the g8
summit in Evian in a text entitled When capitalism
and wage labour will have been abolished! Here
is a key to the triumph of empire: managing to
keep in the background, to surround with silence
the very ground on which it manoeuvres, the front
on which it fights the decisive battle – that of the
shaping of the sensible, of the forming of sensibilities.
In such a way it preventively paralyses any defence in the very moment of its operation, and
ruins the very idea of a counter-offensive. The victory
is won whenever the leftist militant, at the
end of a hard day of “political work”, slumps in
front of the latest action movie.
When they see us withdraw from the painful rituals
– the general assembly, the meeting, the negotiation,
the protest, the demand – when they hear
us speak about the sensible world rather than about
work, papers, pensions, or freedom of movement,
leftist militants give us a pitying look. “The poor
guys”, they seem to say, “they have resigned themselves
to minority politics, they have retreated into
their ghetto, and renounced any widening of the
struggle. They will never be a movement.” But we
believe exactly the opposite: it is they who resign
themselves to minority politics by speaking their
language of false objectivity, whose weight consists
only in repetition and rhetoric. Nobody is fooled
by the veiled contempt with which they talk about
the worries “of the people”, and that allows them
to switch from the unemployed person to the illegal
immigrant, from the striker to the prostitute
without ever putting themselves at stake – for this
contempt forms part of the sensibly evident. Their
will to “widen” is just a way to flee those who are al-ready there, and with whom, above all, they would
fear to live. And finally, it is they who are reluctant
to admit the political meaning of the sentiments,
who can only count on sentimentality for their pitiful
proselytising. All in all, we would rather start
from small and dense nuclei than from a vast and
loose network. We have known these spineless arrangements
Those who would respond to the urgency of the
situation with the urgency of their reaction only
add to the general asphyxiation.
Their manner of intervention implies the rest of
their politics, of their agitation.
As for us, the urgency of the situation just allows
us to be rid of all considerations of legality or
legitimacy. Considerations that have, in any case,
That it might take a generation to build a
victorious revolutionary movement in all its
breadth does not cause us to waver.
We envisage this with serenity.
Just like we serenely envisage the criminal nature
of our existence, and of our gestures.
We have known, we still know, the temptation
The counter-summits, the No-Border camps, the
occupations, and the campaigns against evictions,
new security laws, the building of new prisons; the
succession of all of this. The ever-increasing dispersion
of collectives responding to the same dispersion
Running after the movements.
Feeling our power on an ad hoc basis, only at the
price of returning each time to an underlying powerlessness.
Paying the high price for each campaign. Letting it
consume all the energy that we have. Then moving
to the next one, each time more out of breath, more
exhausted, more desolated.
And little by little, by dint of demanding, by dint
of denouncing, becoming incapable of sensing the
presumed basis of our engagement, the nature of
the urgency that flows through us.
Activism is the first reflex. The standard response to
the urgency of the present situation. The perpetual
mobilisation in the name of urgency is what our
bosses and governments have made us used to, even
when we fight against them.
Forms of life disappear every day, plant or animal
species, human experiences and countless relationships
between them all. But our feeling of urgency
is linked less to the speed of these extinctions than
to their irreversibility, and even more to our inability
to repopulate the desert.
Activists mobilise themselves against the catastrophe.
But only prolong it. Their haste consumes the
little world that is left. The answer of the activist to
urgency remains itself within the regime of urgency,
with no hope of getting out of it or interrupting it.
The activist wants to be everywhere. She goes everywhere
the rhythm of the breakdown of the machine
leads her. Everywhere she brings her pragmatic inventiveness,
the festive energy of her opposition to
the catastrophe. Without fail, the activist mobilises.
But she never gives herself the means to understand
how it is to be done. How to hinder in concrete terms
the progress of the desert, in order to establish inhabitable
worlds here and now.
We desert activism. Without forgetting what gives
it strength: a certain presence to the situation. An
ease of movement within it. A way to apprehend
the struggle, not from a moral or ideological angle,
but from a technical and tactical one.
Old leftist militantism provides the opposite example.
There is something remarkable about the
impermeability of militants in the face of situations.
We remember a scene in Genoa: about 50
militants of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire
wave their red flags labelled “100% to the Left.”
They are motionless, timeless. They vociferate
their calibrated slogans, surrounded by peace-police.
Meanwhile, a few meters away, some of us
fight the lines of carabinieri, throwing back teargas
canisters, ripping up the sidewalk to make projectiles,
preparing Molotov cocktails with bottles
found in the trash and gasoline from upturned
Vespas. When compelled to comment on us the
militants speak of adventurism, thoughtlessness.
Their pretext is that the conditions are not right.
We say that nothing was missing, that everything
was there, but them.
What we desert in leftist militantism is this absence
to the situation. Just as we desert the inconsistency
to which activism condemns us.
Activists themselves feel this inconsistency. And
this is why, periodically, they turn toward their
elders, the militants. They borrow their ways, terrains
of struggle, slogans. What appeals to them in leftist militantism is the consistency, the structure,
the fidelity they lack. This allows the activists to
resort to slogans and demands – “citizenship for
all,” “free movement of people,” “guaranteed income,”
“free public transport.”
The problem with demands is that, formulating
needs in terms that make them audible to power,
they say nothing about those needs, and what real
transformations of the world they require. Thus,
demanding free public transportation says nothing
of our need to travel rather than be transported, of
our need for slowness.
But also, demands often end up masking the real
conflicts whose stakes they set. Demanding free
public transportation only retards the diffusion of
the techniques of fare-dodging, at least for this
specific milieu. Calling for the free movement
of people just eludes the issue of practical escape
from the tightening of control.
Fighting for a guaranteed income is, at best, condemning
ourselves to the illusion that an improvement
of capitalism is necessary to get out of
it. Whatever form it takes, it is always the same
dead end: the subjective resources mobilised may
be revolutionary; yet they remain inserted in a
program of radical reforms. Under the pretext of overcoming the alternative between reform and
revolution we sink into an opportune ambiguity.
The present catastrophe is that of a world actively
made uninhabitable. Of a sort of methodical devastation
of everything that remained liveable in the
relations of humans with each other and with their
worlds. Capitalism could not have triumphed over
the whole planet if it was not for techniques of
power, specifically political techniques. There are
all kinds of techniques: with or without tools, corporal
or discursive, erotic or culinary, the disciplines
and mechanisms of control, and it is pointless to
denounce the “reign of technics.” The political
techniques of capitalism consist first in breaking
the attachments through which a group finds the
means to produce, in the same movement, the conditions
of its subsistence and those of its existence.
In separating human communities from countless
things – stones and metals, plants, trees that have
a thousand purposes, gods, djinns, wild or tamed
animals, medicines and psycho-active substances,
amulets, machines, and all the other beings with
which human groups compose worlds.
Ruining all community, separating groups from their
means of existence and from the knowledge linked to them, it is political reason that dictates the incursion
of the commodity as the mediator of every relation.
Just as the witches had to be disposed of, their medicinal
knowledge as well as the communication
between the spheres which they allowed to exist,
today peasants have to renounce their ability to
plant their own seeds in order to maintain the grip
of multinational corporations and other bodies of
These political techniques of capitalism find their
maximal point of concentration in the contemporary
metropole. The metropole is the place where,
in the end, there is almost nothing left to reappropriate.
A milieu in which everything is done so the
human only relates to himself, only creates himself
separately from other forms of existence, uses or
rubs shoulders with them without ever encountering
In the background of this separation, and to make
it durable, the most minor attempt at disregarding
commodity relationships has been made criminal.
The field of legality was long ago reduced to the
multiple constraints which make life impossible,
through wage labour or self-management, voluntary
aid or leftist militancy.
As this field becomes always more uninhabitable,
everything that can contribute to making life possible
has been turned into a crime.
Where activists claim that “No one is illegal” one
must recognise the opposite: today an entirely legal
existence would be entirely submissive.
There is tax evasion, fictitious employment, insider
dealings and fake bankruptcies, embezzlement of
grants and insurance fraud, forged documents and
welfare scams. There are the voyages across borders
in aeroplane baggage holds, the trips without
a ticket through a town or a country. Fare-dodging
and shoplifting are the daily practices of thousands
of people in the metropole. And there are illegal
practices of trading seeds that have saved many
plant species. There are illegalities that are more
functional than others for the capitalist worldsystem.
There are some that are tolerated, others
that are encouraged, and eventually others that are
punished. An improvised vegetable garden on a
wasteland has every chance of being flattened by a
bulldozer before the first harvest.
If we consider the sum of the laws of exception and
customary rules that govern the space that anyone
goes through in one day, there is henceforth not a single
existence that can be assured of impunity. There exist laws, codes and decisions of jurisprudence that
make every existence punishable; it would just be a
matter of applying them to the letter.
We are not ready to bet that where the desert grows
also grows a salvation. Nothing can happen that
does not begin with a secession from everything
that makes this desert grow.
We know that building a power of any scale will
take time. There are lots of things that we no longer
know how to do. In fact, as all those who benefited
from modernisation and the education dispensed
in our developed lands, we barely know how to do
anything. Even gathering plants for cooking or
medicinal purpose rather than for decoration is regarded
at best as archaic, at worst as quaint.
We make a simple observation: everyone has access
to a certain amount of resources and knowledge
made available by the simple fact of living in these
lands of the old world; and can communise them.
The question is not whether to live with or without
money, to steal or to buy, to work or not, but how to
use the money for increasing our autonomy from the
commodity sphere. And if we prefer stealing than
working, producing for ourselves than stealing, it is
not out of concern for some kind of purity. It is be cause the flows of power that accompany the flows of
commodities, the subjective submission that conditions
the means of survival, have become exorbitant.
There would be many inappropriate ways to say what
we envisage: we neither want to leave for the countryside
nor gather ancient knowledge to accumulate
it. We are not merely concerned with the reappropriation
of means. Nor would we restrict ourselves to
the reappropriation of knowledge. If we put together
all the knowledge and techniques, all the inventiveness
displayed in the field of activism, we would not
get a revolutionary movement. It is a question of
temporality. A question of creating the conditions
where an offensive can sustain itself without fading,
of establishing the material solidarities that allow us
to hold on.
We believe there is no revolution without the constitution
of a common material force. We do not
ignore the anachronism of this belief.
We know it is too early and also that it is too late,
that is why we have time.
We have ceased to wait.
We set the point of reversal, the way out of the
desert, the end of capital, in the intensity of the
link that each manages to establish between what
he or she lives and what he or she thinks. Against
the partisans of existential liberalism, we refuse to
view this as a private matter, an individual issue,
a question of character. On the contrary, we start
from the certainty that this link depends on the
construction of shared worlds, on the sharing of
Everyone is daily enjoined to accept that the
concern of the “link between life and thought”
is evidently naive, out of date, and shows at root
a simple absence of culture. We consider this a
symptom. For this evident is just an effect of that
most modern liberal redefinition of the distinction
between the public and the private. Liberalism
works on the assumption that everything must be
tolerated, that everything can be thought, so long as
it is recognised as being without direct repercussions
on the structure of society, of its institutions
and of state power. Any idea can be admitted; its
expression should even be favoured, so long as the
social and state rules are accepted. In other words,
the freedom of thought of the private individual
must be total, as well as his freedom of expression
in principle, but he must not want the consequences
of his thought as far as collective life is concerned.
Liberalism may have invented the individual,
but it was born mutilated. The liberal individual,
which expresses him or herself better than ever in
the pacifist and civil rights movements of today,
is supposed to be attached to his or her freedom
as far as this freedom does not commit him or herself to anything, and certainly does not try to
impose itself upon others. The stupid precept “my
freedom ends where that of another begins” is received
today as an unassailable truth. Even John
Stuart Mill, though one of the essential agents of
the liberal conquest, noticed that an unfortunate
consequence ensues: one is permitted to desire
anything, on the sole condition that it is not desired
too intensely, that it does not go beyond the
limits of the private, or in any case beyond those
of public “free expression”.
What we call existential liberalism is the adherence
to a series of evidents marked by a constant propensity
of the subject to betrayal. It is evident, for
example, that everyone acts in their own interest,
and no-one can be accused of infamy for becoming
exactly the kind of bastard he would spit on as a
young man. We have been taught to function at a
lower gear in which we are relieved of the very idea
of betrayal. This emotional lower gear is the guarantee
we have accepted of our becoming-adult. Along
with, for the most zealous, the mirage of an affective
self-sufficiency as an insuperable ideal.
there is simply too much to betray for those who decide to keep the promises which they have carried
Among the liberal evidents is that of behaving
like an owner, even towards your own experiences.
This is why not behaving like a liberal individual
means primarily not being attached to ones
properties. Or yet again another meaning must be
given to “properties”: not what belongs to me peculiarly,
but what attaches me to the world, and
that is therefore not reserved for me, has nothing
to do with private property nor with what is supposed
to define an identity (the “that’s just the way
I am”, and its confirmation “that’s just like you!”).
While we reject the idea of individual property, we
have nothing against attachments. The question
of appropriation or re-appropriation is reducible
to the question of knowing what is appropriate for
of need, in terms of relation to a place, to a moment
of a world.
Existential liberalism is the spontaneous ethics
suitable for social democracy considered as a
political ideal. You will never be a better citizen
than when you are capable of renouncing a relation
or a struggle in order to maintain your place. It will not always be exactly easy going, but that is
precisely where existential liberalism is efficient: it
even provides the remedies to the discomforts that
it generates. The cheque to Amnesty International,
the fair trade coffee, the demo against the last war,
seeing the last Michael Moore film, are so many
non-acts disguised as salvational gestures. Carry
on exactly as normal, that is to say go for a walk in
the designated spaces and do your shopping, the
same as always, but on top of that, additionally, ease
your conscience; buy No Logo, boycott Shell, this
should be enough to convince you that political
action, in fact, does not require much, and that
you too are capable of “engaging” yourself. There
is nothing new in this trading of indulgences, just
another false trail in the prevailing confusion. The
invocatory culture of the other-possible-world
and fair-trade-thought leave little room to speak
of ethics beyond that on the label. The increase
in the number of environmentalist, humanitarian
and “solidarity” associations opportunely channels
the general discontentment and thus contributes
to the perpetuation of the state of affairs, through
personal valorisation, recognition by public
opinion, through the worship, in short, of social
Above all no more enemies. At the very most, problems,
abuses or catastrophes – dangers from which
only the mechanisms of power can protect us.
If the obsession of the founders of liberalism was the
neutralisation of sects, it is because they united all
the subjective elements that had to be banished in
order for the modern state to exist. For a sectarian
life is, above all, what is adequate to its particular
truth – namely a certain disposition towards things
and events of the world, a way of not losing sight of
what matters. There is a concomitance between the
birth of “society” (and of its correlate: “economy”) and
the liberal redefinition of the public and the private.
The sectarian community is in itself a threat to what
is referred to by the pleonasm “liberal society”. It is
so because it is a form of organisation of the secession.
Here lies the nightmare of the founders of the
modern state: a section of collectivity detaches itself
from the whole, thus ruining the idea of social unity.
Two things that society cannot bear: that a thought
may be incorporated, in other words that it may have
an effect on an existence; that this incorporation may
be not only transmitted, but also shared, communised.
All this is enough to discredit as a “sect” any collective
experience beyond control.
The evident of the commodity world has inserted
itself everywhere. This evident is the most effective
instrument to disconnect ends from means, to
release “everyday life” as a space of existence that
we only have to manage. Everyday life is what we
are supposed to want to return to, like the acceptance
of a necessary and universal neutralisation. It
is the ever-growing renunciation of the possibility
of an unmediated joy. As a friend once said, it is the
average of all our possible crimes.
Rare are the communities that can avoid the abyss
that is awaiting them, in the extreme dullness of the
real, the community as the epitome of average intensity,
a slow dwindling it cannot escape, clumsily
filled with the stuff of kitchen-sink romances.
This neutralisation is an essential characteristic
of liberal society. Everybody knows the centres of
neutralisation, where it is required that no emotion
stands out, where each one has to contain himself,
and everybody experiences them as such: enterprises
(the family included), parties, sports centres,
art galleries, etc. The real question is to know why,
since everyone knows what these places are about,
they can nevertheless be so popular. Why would
one prefer, always and above all, that nothing happens;
that nothing occurs, in any case, that might cause shocks that are too deep? Out of habit? Because
of despair? Because of cynicism? Or else: because
you can feel the delight of being somewhere
while not being there, of being there while being
essentially somewhere else; because what we are at
heart would be preserved to the point of no longer
even having to exist.
These ethical questions must be addressed first, and
above all, because they are those that we find at
the very heart of the political: how to answer the
neutralisation of the affective, and of the effects of
decisive thoughts? How do modern societies work
with these neutralisations or rather put them to
work? How does our tendency towards attenuation
reflect in us, and in our collective experiences, the
material effectiveness of empire?
The acceptance of these neutralisations can of
course go hand in hand with great intensities of
creation. You can experiment as far as madness,
provided that you are a creative singularity, and that
you produce in public the proof of this singularity
(the “oeuvre”). You can still know the meaning of
the sublime, but on condition that you experience
it alone, and that you pass it on indirectly. You will
then be recognised as an artist or as a thinker, and,if you are “politically engaged”, you will be able to
send out as many messages as you want, with the
good conscience of one who sees further and will
have warned the others.
We have, like many, experienced the fact that affects
blocked in an “interiority” turn out badly: they
can even turn into symptoms. The rigidities we observe
in ourselves come from the dividing walls that
everyone felt obliged to build, in order to mark the
limits of themselves and to contain what must not
overflow. When, for some reason, these walls happen
to crack and shatter, then something happens
that might essentially have to do with fright, but
a fright capable of setting us free from fear. Any
calling into question of the individual limits, of the
borders drawn by civilisation, can be salvational.
To any material community corresponds a certain
jeopardising of bodies: when affects and thoughts
are no longer ascribable to one or the other, when
a circulation seems to be restored in which affects,
ideas, impressions and emotions transmit indifferently
among individuals. But it has to be understood
that community as such is not the solution: it
is its incessant and ubiquitous disappearance that is
the problem. We do not perceive humans as isolated from each
other nor from the other beings of this world; we
see them bound by multiple attachments that they
learned to deny. This denial blocks the affective circulation
through which these multiple attachments
are experienced. This blockage, in turn, is necessary
to become accustomed to the most neutral, the dullest,
the most average intensity, that which can make
one long for the holidays, the lunch-breaks, or the
tv dinners as a godsend – that is to say something
just as neutral, average and dull, but freely chosen.
The imperial order revels in this average intensity.
We will be told: by advocating emotional intensities
experienced in common, you go against what living
beings require to live, namely gentleness and calm –
quite highly priced these days, like any scarce commodity.
If what this means is that our point of view
is incompatible with permitted leisure, then even
winter sports fanatics might admit that it would
be no great loss to see all the ski resorts burn and
give the space back to the marmot. On the other
hand, we have nothing against the gentleness that
being, as a living being, carries. “It could
be that living is a gentle thing,” any blade of grass
knows it better than all the citizens of the world.
To any moral preoccupation, to any concern for
purity, we substitute the collective working out
of a strategy.
Only that which impedes the increase of our
strength is bad.
It follows from this resolution that economics and
politics are no longer to be distinguished.
We are not afraid of forming gangs; and can only
laugh at those who will decry us as a mafia.
We have been sold this lie: that what is most
particular to us is what distinguishes us from
We experience the contrary: every singularity is
felt in the manner and in the intensity with which a
brings into existence something common.
At root it is here that we begin,
where we find each other.
That in us which is most singular calls to be shared.
But we note this: not only is that which we have
to share obviously incompatible with the prevailing
order, but this order strives to track down any form
of sharing of which it does not lay down the rules.
For instance, the barracks, the hospital, the prison,
the asylum, and the retirement home are the only
forms of collective living allowed in the metropole.
The normal state is the isolation of everyone in their
private cubicle. This is where they return tirelessly,
however great the encounters they make elsewhere,
however strong the repulsion they feel.
We have known these conditions of existence, and
never again will we return to them. They weaken
us too much. Make us too vulnerable. Make us
In “traditional societies” isolation was the harshest sentence that could be passed on a member of the
community. It is now the common condition. The
rest of the disaster follows logically. It is only the
narrow idea that everybody has of their own home
that makes it seem natural to leave the street to
the police. The world could not have been made
so uninhabitable, nor sociality so intently controlled
– from shopping centres to bars, from company
headquarters to illicit backrooms – had not
everyone beforehand been granted the shelter of
In running away from conditions of existence that
mutilate us, we found squats; or rather, the international
squat scene. In this constellation of occupied
spaces where, despite many limits, it is possible to
experiment with forms of collective aggregation
outside of control, we have known an increase of
power. We have organised ourselves for elementary
survival – skipping, theft, collective work, common
meals, sharing of skills, of equipment, of loving inclinations
– and we have found forms of political
expression – concerts, leaflets, demos, direct actions,
sabotage. Then, little by little, we have seen our
surroundings turn into a milieu and from a milieu into a scene. We have seen the enactment of a moral
code replace the working out of a strategy. We have
seen norms solidify, reputations built, ideas begin to
function; and everything become so predictable. The
collective adventure turned into a dull cohabitation.
A hostile tolerance grasped all the relations. We
adapted. And in the end what was believed to be a
counter-world amounted to nothing but a reflection
of the prevailing world: the same games of personal
valorisation as regards theft, fights, political correction,
or radicalism – the same sordid liberalism
affective life, the same scraps over access and territory,
the same scission between everyday life and
political activity, the same identity paranoia. In addition,
for the luckiest, the luxury of periodically
fleeing from their local poverty by introducing it
somewhere else, where it is still exotic.
We do not impute these weaknesses to the squat
form. We neither deny nor desert it. We say that
squatting will only make sense again for us provided
that we clarify the basis of the sharing we enter
into. In the squat like anywhere else, the collective
creation of a strategy is the only alternative to falling
back on an identity, either through integration
into society or withdrawing into the ghetto.
As far as strategy is concerned, we have learnt all
the lessons of the “tradition of the defeated”.
We remember the beginnings of the labour movement.
They are close to us.
Because what was put into practice in its initial
phase relates directly to what we are living, what we
want to put into practice today.
The building up of what was to be called the “labour
movement” as a force first rested on the sharing
of criminal practices. The hidden solidarity
funds in case of a strike, the acts of sabotage, the
secret societies, the class violence, the first forms of
mutualisation, developed with the consciousness of
their illegal nature, of their antagonism.
It is in the United States that the indistinction
between forms of workers’ organisation and organised
criminality was the most tangible. The power
of the American proletarians at the beginning
of the industrial era stemmed from the development,
within the community of workers, of a force
of destruction and retaliation against capital, as
well as from the existence of clandestine solidarities.
In response to the perpetual reversibility of
the worker into the criminal, a systematic control
was called for: the “moralisation” of any form of
autonomous organisation. All that exceeded the ideal of the honest worker was marginalised as
gang behaviour. In the end there was the mafia on
the one hand and the unions on the other, allied in
their reciprocal amputation.
In Europe, the integration of workers’ organisations
into the state management apparatus – the foundation
of social democracy – was paid for with the renunciation
of all ability to be a nuisance. Here too
the emergence of the labour movement was a matter
of material solidarities, of an urgent need for communism.
The Maisons du Peuple were the last shelters
for this indistinction between the need for immediate
communisation and the strategic requirements of a
practical implementation of the revolutionary process.
The “labour movement” then developed as a progressive
separation between the co-operative current,
an economic niche cut off from its strategic raison
d’être, and the political and union forms working on
the basis of parliamentarism or joint management. It
is from the abandonment of any secessionist aim that
the absurdity we call the Left was born. The climax
is reached when the unionists denounce violence,
loudly proclaiming that they will collaborate with the
cops to control the rioting demonstrators.
The recent securitisation of the State proves only
this: that the western societies have lost all force of aggregation. They no longer do anything but manage
their inexorable decay. That is, essentially, prevent
any re-aggregation, smash all that emerges.
All that deserts.
All that stands out.
But there is nothing to be done. The state of inner
ruin of these societies lets a growing number of
cracks appear. The continuous refurbishment of appearances
can achieve nothing: here, worlds form.
Squats, communes, groupuscules, barios, all try to
extract themselves from capitalist desolation. Most
often these attempts fail or die from autarchy, for
lack of having established contacts, the appropriate
solidarities, for lack also of conceiving themselves
as parties to the world civil war.
But all of these re-aggregations are still nothing in
comparison with the mass desire, with the constantly
deferred desire, to drop out. To leave.
In ten years, between two censuses, a hundred
thousand people have disappeared in Great Britain.
They have taken a truck, bought a ticket,
dropped acid or joined the maquis. They have
disaffiliated. They have left.
We would have liked, in our disaffiliation, to have
had a place to rejoin, a stand to take, a direction
Many that leave get lost.
Many never arrive.
Our strategy is therefore the following: to immediately
establish a series of foci of desertion, of secession
poles, of rallying points. For the runaways. For those
who leave. A set of places to take shelter from the
control of a civilisation that is headed for the abyss.
It is a matter of giving ourselves the means, of finding
the scale in which all those questions, which when
addressed separately can drive one to depression,
can be resolved. How to get rid of all the dependencies
that weaken us? How to get organised so as to
no longer have to work? How to settle beyond the
toxicity of the metropole without “leaving for the
countryside”? How to shut down the nuclear plants?
How to not be forced, when a friend goes mad, to
resort to psychiatric pulverisation; or to the acerbic
remedies of mechanistic medicine when he falls ill?
How to live together without mutually dominating
each other? How to react to the death of a comrade?
How to ruin empire?
We know our weaknesses: we were born and we
have grown up in pacified societies, that are as if
they have been dissolved. We have not had the opportunity
to acquire the consistency that moments of intense collective confrontation can give. Nor the
knowledge that is linked to them. We have a political
education to mature together. A theoretical and
For this, we need places. Places to get organised, to
share and develop the required techniques. To learn
to handle all that may prove necessary. To co-operate.
Had it not renounced any political perspective,
the experimentation of the Bauhaus, with all the
materiality and the rigor it contained, would evoke
the idea that we have of space-times dedicated to
the transmission of knowledge and experience.
The Black Panthers equipped themselves with such
places; to which they added their politico-military
capacity, the ten thousand free lunches they distributed
everyday, and their autonomous press. They
soon formed a threat so tangible to power that the
special services had to be sent to massacre them.
Whoever constitutes themselves as a force knows
that they become a party to the global course of hostilities.
The question of the recourse to or the renunciation
of “violence” does not arise in such a party.
And pacifism appears to us rather as an additional
weapon in the service of empire, along with the contingents
of riot police and journalists. The things we have to take into consideration concern the conditions
of the asymmetrical conflict which is imposed
on us, the modes of appearance and disappearance
suitable for each of our practices. The demonstration,
the action with faces uncovered, the indignant protest,
are unsuitable forms of struggle for the present
regime of domination, they even reinforce it, feeding
up-to-date information to the systems of control. It
would seem to be judicious, in any case, given that
the frailty of contemporary subjectivity extends even
to our leaders, to attack the material devices rather
than the men that give them a face. This is out of
sheer strategic concern. Therefore, we must turn
ourselves to the forms of operation peculiar to all
guerrillas: anonymous sabotage, unclaimed actions,
recourse to easily appropriable techniques, targeted
There is no moral question in the way we provide
ourselves with our means to live and fight, but a tactical
question of the means we give ourselves and
how we use them.
“The expression of capitalism in our lives” a friend
once said, “is the sadness”.
The point now is to establish the material conditions
for a shared disposition to joy.
On the one hand, we want to live communism;
on the other, to spread anarchy.
We are living through times of the most extreme
separation. The depressive normality
of the metropole, its lonely crowds, expresses the
impossible utopia of a society of atoms.
The most extreme separation reveals the content of
the word “communism.”
Communism is not a political or economic system.
Communism has no need of Marx. Communism
does not give a damn about the ussr. And we could
not explain the fact that every decade for fifty years
they have pretended to rediscover Stalin’s crimes,
crying “look at what communism is!”, if they did not
have the feeling that in reality everything prompts
us in that direction.
The only argument that ever stood against communism
was that we did not need it. And certainly, as
limited as they were, there were still, not so long ago,
here and there, things, languages, thoughts, places,
that were shared and that subsisted; at least enough
of them to not fade away. There were worlds, and
they were inhabited. The refusal to think, the refusal
to ask the question of communism, had practical
arguments. They have been swept away. The
eighties, the eighties as they endure, remains the traumatic indicator of this ultimate purge. Since
then all social relations have become suffering. To
the point of making any anaesthesia, any isolation,
preferable. In a way it is existential liberalism itself
that pushes us to communism, by the very excess of
The communist question is about the elaboration
of our relationship to the world, to beings, to ourselves.
It is about the elaboration of the play between
different worlds, about the communication
between them. Not about the unification of world
space, but about the institution of the sensible, that
is to say the plurality of worlds. In that sense communism
is not the extinction of all conflict, it does
not describe a final state of society after which everything
has been concluded. For it is also through
conflict that worlds communicate. “In bourgeois
society, where the differences between men are
only differences that do not relate to man himself,
it is precisely the true differences, the differences of
quality that are not retained. The communist does
not want to create a collective soul. He wants to
realise a society where false differences are scraped.
And those false differences being scraped, open all their possibilities to the true differences.” Thus
spoke an old friend.
It is evident for instance that the question of what
I belong to, of what I need, of what makes up my
world, has been reduced to the police fiction of
legal property, of what belongs to me, of what is
mine. Something is proper to me insofar as it belongs
to the field of that which I use; and not out
of any juridical title. In the end, legal property has
no other reality than the forces that protect it. So
the question of communism is, on one hand, to do
away with the police, and on the other, to elaborate
modes of sharing, uses, between those who live
together. It is the question that is eluded everyday
with “give me a break!” and “chill out!”. Certainly,
communism is not given. It has to be thought out,
it has to be made. Almost everything that stands
against it boils down to an expression of exhaustion:
“But you’ll never make it... It can’t work... Humans
are what they are...And it’s already hard enough to
live your own life... Energy has limits, we can’t do
everything.” But exhaustion is not an argument. It
is a state.
So communism starts from the experience of
sharing. And first, from the sharing of our needs.
Needs are not what capitalist rule has accustomed
us to. To need is never about needing things without
at the same time needing worlds. Each of our needs
links us, beyond all shame, to everything that
feels it. The need is just the name of the relationship
through which a certain sensible being gives
meaning to such or such element of his world.
That is why those who have no worlds – metropolitan
subjectivities for instance – have nothing
but whims. And that is why capitalism, although it
satisfies like nothing else the need for things, only
spreads universal dissatisfaction; because to do so
it has to destroy worlds.
By communism we mean a certain discipline of the
The practice of communism, as we live it, we call “the
Party.” When we overcome an obstacle together or
when we reach a higher level of sharing, we say that
“we are building the Party.” Certainly others, who we
do not know yet, are building the Party elsewhere.
This call is addressed to them. No experience of
communism at the present time can survive without
getting organised, tying itself to others, putting itself
in crisis, waging war. “For the oases that dispense life
vanish when we seek shelter in them.” As we apprehend it, the process of instituting communism
can only take the form of a collection of
acts of communisation, of making common suchand-
such space, such-and-such machine, suchand-
such knowledge. That is to say, the elaboration
of the mode of sharing that attaches to them. Insurrection
itself is just an accelerator, a decisive moment
in this process. As we understand it, the party
is not an organisation – where everything becomes
insubstantial by dint of transparency – and it is not
a family – where everything smells like a swindle by
dint of opacity.
The Party is a collection of places, infrastructures,
communised means; and the dreams, bodies, murmurs,
thoughts, desires that circulate among those
places, the use of those means, the sharing of those
The notion of the Party responds to the necessity of
a minimal formalisation, which makes us accessible
as well as allows us to remain invisible. It belongs
to the communist way that we explain to ourselves
and formulate the basis of our sharing. So that the
most recent arrival is, at the very least, the equal of
Looking closer at it, the Party could be nothing but this: the formation of sensibility as a force. The deployment
of an archipelago of worlds. What would
a political force, under empire, be that didn’t have
its farms, its schools, its arms, its medicines, its collective
houses, its editing desks, its printers, its covered
trucks and its bridgeheads in the metropole? It
seems more and more absurd that some of us still
have to work for capital – aside from the necessary
tasks of infiltration.
The offensive power of the Party comes from the
fact that it is also a power of production, but that
within it, the relationships are just incidentally relationships
Through its development capitalism has revealed
itself to be not merely a mode of production, but a
reduction of all relations, in the last instance, to relations
of production. From the company to the family,
even consumption appears as another episode in the
general production, the production of society.
The overthrowing of capitalism will come from
those who are able to create the conditions for other
types of relations.
Thus the communism we are talking about is strictly
opposed to what has been historically caricatured
as “communism”, and that was most of the time socialism, monopolist state capitalism.
Communism does not consist in the elaboration of
new relations of production, but indeed in the abolition
of those relations.
Not having relations of production with our world
or between ourselves means never letting the search
for results become more important than the attention
to the process; casting from ourselves all forms
of valorisation; making sure we do not disconnect
affection and co-operation.
Being attentive to worlds, to their sensible configurations,
is exactly what renders impossible the isolation
of something like “relations of production”.
In the places we open, the means we share, it is this
grace that we look for, that we experience.
To name this experience, we often hear about everything
being “free” in the sense of “free shops”, “free
transport”, “free meals”. We would rather speak of
communism, for we cannot forget what this “freedom”
implies in terms of organisation, and in the
short term, of political antagonism.
So, the construction of the Party, in its most visible
aspect, consists for us in the sharing or communisation
of what we have at our disposal. Communising
a place means: setting its use free, and on the
basis of this liberation experimenting with refined,
intensified, and complexified relations. If private property is essentially the discretionary power of
depriving anyone of the use of the possessed thing,
communisation means depriving only the agents of
empire from it.
From every side we oppose the blackmail of having
to choose between the offensive and the constructive,
negativity and positivity, life and survival, war
and the everyday. We will not respond to it. We
understand too well how this alternative divides,
then splits and re-splits, all the existing collectives.
For a force which deploys itself, it is impossible to
say if the annihilation of a device that harms it is
a matter of construction or offence, if seizing sufficient
food or medical autonomy constitutes an act
of war or subtraction. There are circumstances, like
in a riot, in which the ability to heal our comrades
increases our ability to wreak havoc.
Who can say that arming ourselves would not be
part of the material constitution of a collectivity?
When we agree on a common strategy, there is no
choice between the offensive and the constructive;
there is, in every situation, what obviously increases
our power and what harms it, what is opportune
and what is not. And when this is not obvious,
there is discussion, and in the worst of cases, there is the gamble.
In a general way, we do not see how anything else
but a force, a reality able to survive the total dislocation
of capitalism, could truly attack it, could
pursue the offensive until the very moment of dislocation.
When the moment will come, it will be a matter of
actually turning to our advantage the generalised
social collapse, to transform a collapse like the one
in Argentina or the Soviet Union into a revolutionary
situation. Those who pretend to split material
autonomy from the sabotage of the imperial machine
show that they want neither.
It is not an objection against communism that
the greatest experimentation of sharing in the recent
period was the result of the Spanish anarchist
movement between 1868 and 1939.
Communism is possible at every moment.
What we call “History” is to date nothing but
a set of roundabout means invented by humans
to avert it. The fact that this “History” has for a
good century now come down to nothing but a
varied accumulation of disasters shows how the
communist question can no longer be suspended.
It is this suspension that we need, in turn,
«But what do you actually want? What are
you proposing? » This kind of question may
seem innocent. But unfortunately these are not
questions. These are operations.
Referring every we that expresses itself to a foreign
you means first warding off the threat that this
we somehow calls me, that this we passes through
me. Thus constituting the one who merely carries
a proposition – that cannot itself be attributed to
anyone – as the owner of this proposition. Now, in
the methodical organisation of the prevailing separation,
propositions are allowed to circulate only on
condition that they can give proof of an owner, of
an author. Without which they risk being common,
and only that which is proposed by the spectacle is
permitted anonymous diffusion.
And then there is this mystification: that caught in
the course of a world that displeases us, there would
be proposals to make, alternatives to find. That we
could, in other words, lift ourselves out of the situation
that we are in, to discuss it in a calm way,
between reasonable people.
But no, there is nothing beyond the situation. There
is no outside to the world civil war. We are irremediably
All we can do is elaborate a strategy. Share an analysis
of the situation and elaborate a strategy within
it. This is the only possible revolutionary and practical
we, open and diffuse, of whoever acts along
the same lines.
At the last count, in August 2003, we can say that we
face the greatest offensive of capital since the beginning
of the eighties. Anti-terrorism and the abolition
of the last gains of the defunct labour movement
set the parameters of a diffuse discipline. Never have
the managers of society known so well from which
obstacles they are emancipated and what means they
hold. They know, for instance, that the planetary
middle-class that lives henceforth in the metropole
is too disarmed to offer the slightest resistance to its
planned annihilation. Just like they know that the
counter-revolution they conduct is now inscribed in
millions of tons of concrete, in the architecture of
so many “new towns.” In the longer term it seems
that the plan of capital is indeed to bring out on a
global scale a set of high-security zones, continuously
linked together, where the process of capitalist
valorisation would embrace all the expressions of life
in a perpetual and unhindered way. This imperial deterritorialised
comfort zone of citizens would form a kind of police continuum where a more or less constant
level of control would prevail, politically as well
as biometrically. The “rest of the world” could then
be treated, in the incomplete process of its pacification,
as a foil and, at the same time, as a gigantic
outside to civilise. The chaotic experiments of zoneto-
zone cohabitation between hostile enclaves as it
has been taking place for decades in Israel would be
the model of social management to come. We do not
doubt that the real stake in all this, for capital, is to
reconstitute from the ground up its own society.
Whatever the form, and however high the price.
We have seen with Argentina that the economic
collapse of a whole country was not, from its point
of view, too high a price to pay.
In this context we are those, all those, who feel the
tactical need of these three operations:
1. Preventing by any means the reconstruction of
2. Advancing, from “natural disaster” to “social
movement”, the process of communisation, the
construction of the Party.
3. Bringing the secession to the vital sectors of the
1. The Left is periodically routed. This amuses
us but it is not enough. We want its rout to
be final. With no remedy. May the spectre of
opposition never again come to
haunt the minds of those who know they won’t
fit into the capitalist process. The Left – everybody
admits this today, but will we still remember
the day after tomorrow? – is an integral
part of the neutralisation mechanisms peculiar
to liberal society. The more the social implosion
proves real, the more the Left invokes “civil society.”
The more the police exercises its arbitrary
will with impunity, the more they claim to be
pacifist. The more the state throws off the last
judicial formalities, the more they become “citizens”.
The greater the urgency to appropriate
the means of our existence, the more the Left
exhorts us to appropriate the conditions of our
submission, to wait and demand the mediation,
if not the protection, of our masters. It is the
Left which enjoins us today, faced with governments
which stand openly on the terrain of social
war, to make ourselves heard by them, to write
up our grievances, to form demands, to study
economics. From Léon Blum to Lula, the Left
has been nothing but that: the party of the man,the citizen and civilisation. Today this program
coincides with the complete counter-revolutionary
program. Which consists in maintaining
all the illusions that paralyse us. The calling of
the Left is therefore to expound the dream of
what only empire can afford. It represents the
idealistic side of imperial modernisation, the
necessary steam-valve to the unbearable pace of
capitalism. It is even shamelessly written in the
very publication of the French Department of
Youth, Education and Research: “From now on,
everyone knows that without the concrete help
of citizens, the state will have neither the means
nor the time to carry on the work that can prevent
our society from exploding.”
Defeating the Left, that is to say keeping continuously
open the channel of social disaffection, is
not only necessary but also possible today. We
witness, while the imperial structures become
stronger at an unprecedented rate, the transition
from the old Labour left, gravedigger of
the Labour movement and born from it, to a
new global, cultural left, of which it can be said
that Negriism is at the head. This new left has
not yet fully established itself on the recently
neutralised “anti-globalisation movement.”
The new lures they employ are not yet effective,
whilst the old ones have long been useless.
Our task is to ruin the global left wherever it
comes forth, to sabotage methodically, that is
to say in theory as well as in practice, any of
its moments of constitution. Thus for instance
our success in Genoa lay less in the spectacular
confrontations with the police, or in the damage
inflicted on the organs of state and capital, than
in the fact that the spreading of the practice of
confrontation peculiar to the “Black Bloc” to
all the parts of the demonstration scuttled the expected
triumph of the Tute Bianche. And so, in
the aftermath, our failure has been to have not
known how to elaborate our position in such
a way that this victory in the street becomes
something else than the mere bogey systematically
brandished ever since by all the so-called
It is now the fallback of this global left on the
social forums – due to the fact that it was defeated
in the street – that we must attack.
2. From year to year the pressure increases to make
everything function. As the social cybernetisation
progresses, the normal situation becomes more
urgent. And from then on, in an absolutely logical
way, the situations of crisis and malfunction
multiply. A power failure, a hurricane, or a social
movement, do not differ from the point of view
of empire. They are disturbances. They must be
managed. For the moment, that is to say on account
of our weakness, these situations of interruption
appear as moments in which empire arises, takes
its place in the materiality of worlds, experiments
with new procedures. For it is precisely there
that it ties itself more firmly to the populations it
claims to rescue. Empire claims everywhere to be
the agent of return to the normal situation. Our
task, conversely, is to make habitable the situation
of exception. We will genuinely succeed in “blocking
corporate-society” only on condition that such
a “blockage” is made up of desires other than that
of a return to normality.
What happens in a strike or in a “natural disaster”
is in a way quite similar. A suspension occurs
in the organised stability of our dependencies.
At that point the being of need, the communist
being, that which essentially binds us and essentially separates us, is laid bare in each. The
blanket of shame that normally covers it is torn
apart. The receptiveness for encounter, for experimentation
of other relations to the world,
to others, to oneself, as it appears in these moments,
is enough to sweep away any doubt about
the possibility of communism. About the need for
communism too. What is then required is our
ability to self-organise, our ability, by organising
ourselves right away on the basis of our needs, to
prolong, to propagate, to give effectivity to the
situation of exception, which has always formed
the basis of state terror only because it has remained
a threat on the part of state. This is particularly
striking in “social movements”. The very
expression “social movement” seems to suggest
that what really matters is what we are heading
towards, and not what happens here. There has
been in all the social movements up till now a
commitment not to seize what is here, which explains
why they follow each other without ever
becoming a force, like a succession of breaking
waves. Hence the particular texture, so volatile,
of their sociality, where any commitment appears
revocable. Hence also their invariable drama: a
quick ascent thanks to an echo in the media,then, on the basis of this hasty aggregation, the
slow but inevitable erosion; and finally, the driedup
movement, the last group of diehards who
get a card from this or that union, found this or
that association, expecting in this way to find
an organisational continuity to their commitment.
But we do not seek such continuity: the
fact of having premises where we might meet,
and a photocopier to print tracts. The continuity
we seek is the one which allows us, after having
struggled for months, to not go back to work, to
not start working again as before, to keep doing
harm. And this can only be built during movements.
It is a matter of immediate, material sharing,
the construction of a real revolutionary war
machine, the construction of the Party.
We must, as we were saying, organise ourselves
on the basis of our needs – manage to answer
progressively the collective question of eating,
sleeping, thinking, loving, creating forms, coordinating
our forces – and conceive all this as a
moment of the war against empire.
It is only in this way, by inhabiting the disturbances
of its very program, that we will be able
to counter that “economic liberalism” which is
only the strict consequence, the logical application, of the existential liberalism that is everywhere
accepted and practised. To which each
one is attached as if it were the most basic right,
including those who would like to challenge
“neo-liberalism.” This is the way the Party will
be built, as a trail of habitable places left behind
by each situation of exception that empire meets.
We will not mistake, then, how the subjectivities
and the revolutionary collectives become less
fragile, as they give themselves a world.
3. We shall see then that empire is formed in the
simultaneous constitution of two monopolies:
on the one hand, the scientific monopoly of “objective”
descriptions of the world, and of techniques
of experimentation on it, on the other
hand the religious monopoly of techniques of
the self, of the methods by which subjectivities
elaborate themselves – a monopoly to which
psychoanalytic practice is directly related. On
the one hand a relation to the world free of any
relation to the self – to the self as a fragment of
the world – on the other hand a relation to the
self free of any relation to the world – to the
world as it goes through me. It thus appears as
if science and religion, in the very process of being
torn asunder, have created a space in which
empire is perfectly free to move.
Of course, these monopolies are distributed in
various ways according to the spaces of empire.
In the so-called developed lands, where the religious
discourse has lost this ability, the sciences
constitute a discourse of truth which is attributed
the power to formulate the very existence of
the collectivity. This is therefore where we must,
to begin with, bring secession.
Bringing secession into the sciences does not
mean pouncing on them as if on a stronghold
to conquer or raze to the ground, but making
salient the fault lines than run through them,
siding with those who emphasise these lines.
For in the same way that cracks permanently
warp the fake density of the social, every branch
of the sciences forms a battlefield saturated
with strategies. For a long time the scientific
community has managed to show the image of
a large united family, consensual for the most
part, and so respectful of the rules of courtesy.
This was even the major political operation
attached to the existence of the sciences: concealing
the internal splits, and exerting, from
that smooth image, unrivalled terror effects.
Terror towards the outside, as deprivation of
truth, for all that which is not recognised as
scientific. Terror towards the inside, as polite
but fierce disqualification of potential heresies.
Each science implements a series of hypotheses;
these hypotheses are so many decisions regarding
the construction of reality. This is today
widely admitted. What is denied is the ethical
meaning of each of these decisions, in what way they involve a certain life-form, a certain way
of perceiving the world (for instance, experiencing
the time of existence as the unwinding of
a “genetic program”, or joy as a matter of serotonin).
Considered in this way, scientific language
games seem less made for establishing a communication
between those who use them, than
for excluding those who ignore them. The airtight
material apparatus in which scientific activity
is inscribed – laboratories, symposiums,
etc. – carries in itself a divorce between experimentations
and the worlds they configure. It
is not enough to describe the way the “core”
research is always connected in some way to
military-commercial interests, and how in
their turn these interests define the contents,
the very orientations of research. To the extent
participates in imperial pacification
it is firstly by carrying out only those experiments,
testing only those hypotheses, that
are compatible with the maintenance of the prevailing
order. Our capacity to ruin imperial order
is conditioned upon opening spaces for antagonistic
experiments. For these experiments
to produce their related worlds we need such clearings, just as the plurality of these worlds is
needed for the smothered antagonisms of scientific
practice to express themselves.
In this process the practitioners of the old mechanistic
and pasteurian medicine must join those who
practice medicine of the “traditional” kind, setting
aside all new age confusion. The attachment to research
must cease to be confused with the judicial
defence of the integrity of the laboratory. Non-productivist
agricultural practices must develop beyond
the category of the organic. Those who feel the
insufferable contradictions of “public education”,
between the championing of “citizenship” and the
workshop of the diffuse self-entrepreneuriat, must
be more and more numerous. “Culture” must no
longer be able to take pride in the collaboration of
a single inventor of forms.
Alliances are everywhere possible.
In order to become effective, the perspective of
breaking the capitalist circuits requires that the secessions
and that they consolidate.
We will be told: you are caught in an alternative
which will condemn you in one way or another: either
you manage to constitute a threat to empire, in
which case you will be quickly eliminated; or you
will not manage to constitute such a threat, and you
will have once again destroyed yourselves.
There remains only the wager on the existence of
another term, a thin ridge, just enough for us to
walk on. Just enough for all those who can hear to
walk and live.
1. Association for the Tobin Tax for the Aid of Citizens.
An extra-parliamentary coalition of leftists, once
influential in France as the statist fringe of the antiglobalisation
2. The ‘White Overalls’ : Negriist militant organisation
which dominated the anti-globalisation movement in
3. The mouthpiece of att ac.
4. Mouvement des Entreprises de France (medef), the
union of French bosses.
5. Anarchist Federation.
6. Revolutionary Communist League, main French