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The prospects for revolution

Today no one cares about revolution. This does not say that the possibility of a fundamental change in society has been forgotten. But since it has appeared to people mainly as an image, revolution is now rejected with the changes in the system of images. Like a clever immune system response, the revolution that the media proclaimed in the sixties was a strong force for preventing the actually revolutionary forces from coming together. It swallowed them. "Yuppies" could only be called a revolutionary force once the entire farce of "Hippie Revolution" had been inflated by the media.

Now is a sad time for the "progressives". The more that all of the impulses of 60's toward liberation, from free love and feminism to black liberation, tried to establish themselves as parts of the country's institutions, the more easily they were swept away by resurgent America. Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, in particular, represented the most advanced aspirations of blacks, the most revolutionary section of the American working class. While it is now know how this group was brutally suppressed by the police, this does not excuse their weaknesses. Indeed, their focus on building a political party made them more vulnerable to these attacks.

There were upheavals in the 60's that had real revolutionary potential but they were buried by their representatives. The Panthers followed the Watts insurrection. But they merely sold the twin manipulations of electoralism and terrorism as solutions to what they thought of as a purely black problem. They wound up as the failure of the most advanced forms of manipulation. They still maintained the last illusion sold by the media, a black revolution which would not challenge capitalism. This illusion made them the violent alter-images of the Martin Luther Kings and Jesse Jacksons of this country. The most direct descendents of the panthers today show the way this thinking goes. The African People's Socialist Party have as their main program, reparations, a giant hand-out to black people from the US government. Revolutionary social workers indeed! They say, grab your share of the pie, with guns if you have. We say, smash the pie, which meets no ones needs anyway.

These groups can only "radicalize" the same topics that The New York Times debates. We do not want to play to all the "important issues" that are spewed out by talk radio. Instead, we will be documenting the stupidity of these topics; we are no more excited by Hippies than by Yuppies; bell-bottoms and straight legs are equally pathetic (not that we encourage any form of dress). The radicalism you get sold is exactly the radicalism that is worthless, no matter how radical it claims to be.

At the same time, "the secret but obvious necessity" for total social revolution has not changed for a moment. With conditions as they are, we don't ask "what makes the working class rebel" but, like Reich, "why doesn't the working class rebel". If anything, the misery of living in America has grown steadily worse, as American workers are more and more attacked by the over-all crisis of capital. But at the same time, the language for expressing that misery been disappearing. The absurdity of past society weighs upon those still alive "like a nightmare" but they have yet to wake up from this nightmare.

The simple cost of survival in America and Western Europe has been rising on both the physical and social level for the last twenty years, putting America closer to the level of poverty of the capitalist world as a whole. Health care and standards of living in ghettos of LA and Oakland are approaching the levels of many "third world" countries. This is only logical as the world is remodeled in a model of hierarchical domination; the US is now described as consisting of forty "life style zones" instead of fifty states, from "money and brains" to "poor and homeless". The "third world" and the first worlds are still divided but this division is no longer purely geographical; while Asia and Africa develop a significant middle class, a larger segment of the US working class has sunk into miserable poverty.

This condition makes world revolution the only reasonable option. (we will see more on the global situation in "The Crisis of The Capital").

Our project

While we do not have the resources to document all the misery in the system as a whole, we face a condition in which those groups that are sincerely attempting to find a way of this system are at much in crisis as the economy as a whole.

Just because it is in decline, capital has not stopped the process of integrating all forms of protest into its products. Public Enemy is only the most visible example of a managed protest, where great radicalism is claimed but only a chaotic basket of demands (for both "a piece of the pie" and otherwise) is created (Public Enemy has a thank you note on their album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to hold us back, congratulating Jesse Jackson, the salesman of anti-drug attacks on the ghetto).

We criticize even the "most radical" groupings that we find today, since every group today seems to accept the present "market place of ideas" (an area where ideas are sold and packaged but not produced).

Any actually revolutionary group has to go beyond Lenin's theory of the vanguard as the controller of the revolution; the theory of the intellectual as the brains of the revolution. The historical progression of capital has ended the possibility of an alliance of the working class and the intelligentsia. Capital has perfected the intellectuals' role by allowing any controller to also act as a capitalist. Therapist, guru and cult leader, are only some roles that allow capital to perfectly "co-opt" any "free-lance controllers". At the same time, capital has proletarianized many former intellectuals. Automation has increased the monotony involved in office or education jobs until they have become another kind of factory work (while keeping an illusion of privilege). Thus the next revolt must involve intellectuals who reject their role as controllers, rather than seeing a conscious intelligentsia "leading the revolution". (see "The Project of Supersession")

"My game's not knowledge, my game's fear". We know who makes knowledge their game and who feels they've already lost that game. Obviously, we are not against thinking but against the poor quality of thought that is required of specialists. We intend to be part of the reconquest of specialized knowledge for the dispossessed, the superseding of the intellectual's role. We are the seeds of a group that will again apply an adventurous "spirit of vandalism" to art, science and literature.

A coherent group considers all the insights that are hidden in the invisible rhythm of daily life. We aim to "recover through transfer" the communist program by interpreting the tendencies of modern capitalism that are again putting this program on the agenda (see "Hatred and Violence"). Although the literal statement of the communist program has been marginalized to the point of non-existence1, this comes because of the movement of capital, which recycles the forms of communist struggles while destroying their content. We look for this system of unconsciousness to begin to over-load and reverse itself. While the increase in lies makes an intellectual statement of what is wrong quite hard, is also forces an awareness of the intolerability of continuing the present system of dead time dominating living time.

While relatively few conscious anti-capitalist actions have taken place lately, the level of class struggle around the world seems to be increasing due to the continuing crisis of capital. We do not believe that these riots and strikes will be sufficient to link together as a revolutionary force until they have a consciousness of a revolutionary opposition to capital. This consciousness will not be simply injected by small groups but forms in a complex process of self-education (This process will naturally involve conscious tendencies).

On many levels, we believe that those who are not part of the educated and specialized elite already have the best understanding of this society. This comes because those who are outside are able to see this elite as a unified group. They are the first to see how those who rule with ideas defend themselves even when they are trying to be radical (and almost all those who now define themselves as radical belong to the educated elite).

The insight of a black woman on LSD, who sees that the world is "all white", is more profound than the experts' ideas about better public housing or racial harmony. "Marxists" will go through long statistical discussions about "does unemployment cause family stress2" (uh-huh) and other obvious things exactly because they are unable to go beyond these questions. The dispossessed can more easily view their struggles without illusions. Those who are at the stage of "complete irresponsibility", those who simply know life sucks, have a better consciousness of a complete system of oppression than those who have learned to say that we need reforms, new laws, better senators, etc..

The problem is that the system is designed to prevent the average person from being able to express or remember their insights. We wish to build from this point, to establish a beachhead at the limits of personal rebellion. We will be making maps of the constructed unconsciousness of this society, from its "artistic and cultural activity" to its architecture, science, education and therapy. (see "The Spectacle's Critique of The Spectacle").

The opportunity for collective action comes as this society becomes more brutal and absurd. (see "Hatred and violence"). "The question of whether human beings want to live free is being superseded by the present conditions. These conditions force human beings to live free or perish" (paraphrasing Guy Debord). The dictatorship of the proletariat is now the possible way out of our mess.

We do not expect to be able to immediately address the vast group of average workers since, especially in America, this group has not yet created a language to express its rejection of society. It has not yet constituted itself as a conscious proletariat (here proletarians are defined as those who have nothing to lose, but their misery, from the destruction of this society).

Those who we hope to address are the impossible people of this society, the growing number of people who are unable to fit within the categories of "consumer society"; those on strike those who are in rebellion, either individually or collectively. For us, these people are more important to speak to than the most prestigious critics of this society, who naturally can only ask how we will be able to push reform within society.

A consciousness of refusing the entire system is a means to go beyond today's scattered opposition. This is an important force we will be helping to encourage. We will be intervening in the various struggles that are now taking place with the aim of pushing them outside of the control of any of the managers of this society. Unions and leftists are our most common enemies here.

Contradictions in the system will be our weapons. The society has produced more and more people who are by definition outside of the standard categories of this society; those who have gone to college or trained for skilled work but who have no real opportunity for anything but standard unskilled labour. The standard compensation of the privileged sectors of the working class, being able to send the children to college, has thus broken down in practice. We hope to see the instigators of class war come out of the working class in this way. Having not yet been given an official role in society, these people can gain a role in destroying it (we will be discussing this tendency more in "The Affects Of Revolt").

The impossible people are also people who in one way or another are investigating the means of escaping the logic of this society. It is quite possible that they will not express their desire for escape in the words used by the traditional left (which is only one step removed from the language of the dominant society). It is possible that they become involved various leftist activities while still having a sense of their limitations. In this sense, we do not want to make a blank-condemnation of leftists, just the ideas of leftism.

At the same time, what we talk about is not simply another blue-print for finally ending capitalism but a program that history is already close to putting into effect. We see this negatively as a different way of living that is suppressed today along with the possibilities of proletarian revolution. The self-organization of the poor today, taking place the world over, is still far from a consciously autonomous organization of the proletariat but it shows a picture of a life, one where commodities are abolished and where community is restored.

In America, we can see the vague outline of the not-yet-conscious proletariat forming in a recent riot in Berkeley CA (with interracial looting), a riot in Huntington Beach where crowds of youths spontaneously attacked the police as well as in small wild-cat strikes and the militant parts of large union organized strikes (see also "Hatred and Violence".

1There are only a few small groups listed by "International correspondence", p. 126, Two Texts for Defining A Communist Programme, as being within the (left) communist mileau; 1. The Communist Workers Organization (Address: P.O. Box 145, Head post Office, Glasgow. U.K) 2. The Partito Communista Internazionalista (Casella Postella 1753, 20100 Milano, Italy) 3. International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP) adress is same as both 1&2, 4. International Communist Current (BM box 869, London WCIN 3XX, England 4. The Communist Bulletin Group (Box CBG/ Boomtown Books/ 167 King Street/ Aberbeen/ UK). There various smaller groups and tendencies also listed but the entire grouping does not contain as many people as even one of the larger trotskyist groups.

2In US Capitalism in Crisis, published by the union of "radical" political economists, there is a long discussion on page 214; the article The Effects of the Economic Crisis on the Family by Eli Zaretsky, an academic Marxist who intends to publish further stuff from a project at the UC Berkeley