Home ASAN Index Discussion Contact

Introduction to Glossary of Terms

We want to see the point where revolts come together to form revolutions. This involves an element of play, which inherently critiques today's joyless society. Language is an excellent model of the immediate coming together of thought that will be involved in the communist revolution. A future society would use a language that is not a simple diagram of what is but an important part of living. Part of that project should begin now (this is not saying that communication will become easy in a revolutionary situation - on many levels, just that opposite is likely).

Our language must demonstrate the methods of this society. This requires not merely a statement of principles but a dynamic language against this society. One language we will naturally use is that of the specialists. Another will be "everyday" language and a third would be slang.

Despite the difficulty this will cause, we reject the need for a "popularization" of our language. It would be better to cast our ideas in the slang of youth subgroups than into the main stream, "reasonable" language of TV documentaries (though we are willing to use this language against the controllers also).

Various concepts will be accessed dynamically, i.e. redefined as they are used. We wish to herald an era of unlimited play which will be at the same time the most profound research of this society imaginable. This enterprise will naturally grow out of the playful subversion of the present society. The transformation of local dialects, black slang, LA talk etc. into a global languages of opposition, will eventually be explored. This exploration will be carried out by the same group that will lay the basic for the new society, the global proletariat.


At the same time, for immediate communication with those far away from us, we have to make some of our ideas completely clear. One problem with this is that we still have to take words from rulers of this society, words that often work against people's understanding. For the specialists who control a bureaucracy, the use of a secret language is a way of excluding the working class and the uneducated from power; big words are used to define who is smart and who is dumb.

While we wish to ultimately end the domination of the certified thinkers and the big talkers, along with every other kind of domination, we still use some of these big words because the normal language has also been impoverished by this society. For us, some specialized terms are necessary but they can not have a sacred position.

At first thought, the way to escape from the control of the specialists would be to give plain English definitions of all the words we use; we will naturally be doing some of this.

But with too much of this, we would loose the chance to play with words. To create free language, we instead use same informal word games that high-school kids play; defining make up words as we go along. Our words will be put forward as weapons; the uncontrolled sector has an opportunity to use them and redefine them in struggle.

Though our words can be used by the enemy, the best way to prevent this is to put them forward in way that is opposed to the methods of experts.

Many of these words have meanings that have already been established by experts. We are certainly willing to redefine them, even in an ignorant manner, if this will help attack the authority of a society run by experts.

Glossary of Terms

Alienation: To separate one thing from another. This word is used in many contexts. It is alienation both when a person's money is taken from them and when people's worlds are made into alien creations.

Bourgeois: A member of the ruling class, a businessman or woman big enough to employ workers, a buy and seller, a Capitalist.

Capitalism: The present world system, that started with European colonization of the Americas and is based on wage labour, and the exchange of goods and money on a world scale. Capitalism includes all the so-called communist countries (USSR, China etc.) which operate in the same world system as the US, Japan and Europe.

Commodity: A product, anything bought and sold. A person's labour time can bought by the capitalist of this society and so labour-power becomes a commodity like sliced bread.

Communism: Not the system that exists now in Russia or China. A social system that will negate the basic parts of capitalism; wage labour, commodity production and the market economy. A system where direct control of the means of production will allow play to be a dominant value.

Councils: Committees of workers, either on strike or having taken-over their work places. These are run on a directly democratic basis. These assemblies will be the means that the working class as a whole uses to control society. All committees and delegates can be called back by a vote of the entire body. The dictatorship of the workers councils means that councils both make all decisions but carry them out all actions. An example; the October Revolution in Russia was carried out by a council (soviet) of revolution and not by a specialized army.

Detournement: The rearrangement of artistic and cultural elements to create a work that communicates their real nature. Some kinds of rap music approximate this.

Insurance: The system of bought protection. The only difference between the life insurance salesman and the Chicago mobster is that the mobster brings his threat with him and the insurance salesman's threat is implied by the system; people deny the penniless food and clothing. You pay now to keep from being killed later. Fashion becomes insurance also. Look right or you are outside of the life. The protection system is created over time. It has a history. The failures of past revolts become part of the present resignation. Through insurance and media mythology, the possibilities of the past and the future are integrated into a resignation to the present.

Management: Any type of control system. It is common to talk of a managed crisis. By extension, we have managed poverty, managed hatred etc. The ostensible difference between Managers and bosses is that managers don't simply bark orders but are willing to use any kind of manipulation to get their way.

Recuperate, Recuperation: A term coined by the Situationist international; to reincorporate a liberatory tendency back into the present system.

Reification: The process of taking something that is fluid and moving as rigid and fixed: talking about the "the will of the people" is a reification because the will of the people is constantly changing in every imaginable direction at present (only when the majority of the population has a means of creating their desires will there exist any actual will of the people).

Situationist International (SI): A well-known advanced theoretical grouping of the late twentieth century. They are quite possibly the only "ultra-leftist" grouping that was capable of successful, revolutionary activity. Existing primarily in France, they formulated a theory of capital producing the spectacle.

Spectacle: A term used in a specialized manner in french earlier by George Baitalle and later adopted by the SI. Normally in french spectacle means simply "show"; in Paris movies and theater are advertised under signs saying "Spectacle". The situationists used the term to mean the sum of all the looking in this society, a single show that become the object of all the apparently purposeless production of this society. "The only show that this society can give us is the spectacle of our own alienation".

The Spectacle implies that this society is unified in a single activity. This unity can appear only to those who attack the system. The Spectacle is an idea of both the system and its opposition. The world is revealed as Spectacle only a mass movement of those who wish to really live appears.

Ultra-Left: a grouping that has existed since 1917. They are basically those few Marxists who did not accept the return of the Russia to capitalism. Since a conversion to explicit world capitalism took place over a relatively extended period (5-10 years), different groups broke at different times and for different reasons. These groupings are thus by no means unified.