The Coming Insurrection


The Invisible Committee
Second Circle
To call this population of strangers in the midst of which we live "society" is such an usurpation that even sociologists dream of renouncing a concept that was, for a century, their bread and butter. Now they prefer the metaphor of a network to describe the connection of cybernetic solitudes, the intermeshing of weak interactions under names like "colleague," "contact," "buddy," "acquaintance," or "date." Such networks sometimes condense into a milieu, where nothing is shared but codes, and where nothing is played out except the incessant recomposition of identity.
Fourth Circle
The metropolis is this simultaneous death of city and country. It is the crossroads where all the petty bourgeois come together, in the middle of this middle class that stretches out indefinitely, as much a result of rural flight as of urban sprawl. To cover the planet with glass would fit perfectly the cynicism of contemporary architecture. A school, a hospital, or a media center are all variations on the same theme: transparency, neutrality, uniformity. These massive, fluid buildings are conceived without any need to know what they will house. They could be here as much as anywhere else. What to do with all the office towers at La Dťfense in Paris, the apartment blocks of Lyonís La Part Dieu, or the shopping complexes of EuraLille? The expression "flambant neuf" perfectly captures their destiny. A Scottish traveler testifies to the unique attraction of the power of fire, speaking after rebels had burned the HŰtel de Ville in Paris in May, 1871: "Never could I have imagined anything so beautiful. Itís superb. I wonít deny that the people of the Commune are frightful rogues. But what artists! And they were not even aware of their own masterpiece! (...) I have seen the ruins of Amalfi bathed in the azure swells of the Mediterranean, and the ruins of the Tung-hoor temples in Punjab. Iíve seen Rome and many other things. But nothing can compare to what I have seen here tonight before my very eyes."
Fifth Circle
And yet there is no doubt that we are cut out for the economy. For generations we were disciplined, pacified and made into subjects, productive by nature and content to consume. And suddenly everything that we were compelled to forget is revealed: that the economy is political. And that this politics is, today, a politics of discrimination within a humanity that has, as a whole, become superfluous. From Colbert to de Gaulle, by way of Napoleon III, the state has always treated the economic as political, as have the bourgeoisie (who profit from it) and the proletariat (who confront it). All thatís left is this strange, middling part of the population, the curious and powerless aggregate of those who take no sides: the petty bourgeoisie. They have always pretended to believe that the economy is a reality-because their neutrality is safe there. Small business owners, small bosses, minor bureaucrats, managers, professors, journalists, middlemen of every sort make up this non-class in France, this social gelatin composed of the mass of all those who just want to live their little private lives at a distance from history and its tumults. This swamp is predisposed to be the champion of false consciousness, half-asleep and always ready to close its eyes on the war that rages all around it.
(...) the forced march towards a modernized economy. Capitalism got as much as it could from undoing all the old social ties, and it is now in the process of remaking itself by rebuilding these same ties on its own terms. Contemporary metropolitan social life is its incubator. In the same way, it ravaged the natural world and is driven by the fantasy that it can now be reconstituted as so many controlled environments, furnished with all the necessary sensors. This new humanity requires a new economy that would no longer be a separate sphere of existence but, on the contrary, its very tissue, the raw material of human relations; it requires a new definition of work as work on oneself, a new definition of capital as human capital, a new idea of production as the production of relations, and consumption as the consumption of situations; and above all a new idea of value that would encompass all of the qualities of beings. This burgeoning "bioeconomy" conceives the planet as a closed system to be managed and claims to establish the foundations for a science that would integrate all the parameters of life. Such a science threatens to make us miss the good old days when unreliable indices like GDP growth were supposed to measure the well-being of a people-for at least no one believed in them. "Revalorize the non-economic aspects of life" is the slogan shared by the degrowth movement and by capitalís reform program. Eco-villages, video-surveillance cameras, spirituality, biotechnologies and sociability all belong to the same "civilizational paradigm" now taking shape, that of a total economy rebuilt from the ground up. Its intellectual matrix is none other than cybernetics, the science of systems-that is, the science of their control. In the 17th century it was necessary, in order to completely impose the force of economy and its ethos of work and greed, to confine and eliminate the whole seamy mass of layabouts, liars, witches, madmen, scoundrels and all the other vagrant poor, a whole humanity whose very existence gave the lie to the order of interest and continence. The new economy cannot be established without a similar screening of subjects and zones singled out for transformation. The chaos that we constantly hear about will either provide the opportunity for this screening, or for our victory over this odious project.
Find each other Donít back away from what is political in friendship
Weíve been given a neutral idea of friendship, understood as a pure affection with no consequences. But all affinity is affinity within a common truth. Every encounter is an encounter within a common affirmation, even the affirmation of destruction. No bonds are innocent in an age when holding onto something and refusing to let go usually leads to unemployment, where you have to lie to work, and you have to keep on working in order to continue lying. People who swear by quantum physics and pursue its consequences in all domains are no less bound politically than comrades fighting against a multinational agribusiness. They will all be led, sooner or later, to defection and to combat.
The pioneers of the workersí movement were able to find each other in the workshop, then in the factory. They had the strike to show their numbers and unmask the scabs. They had the wage relation, pitting the party of capital against the party of labor, on which they could draw the lines of solidarity and of battle on a global scale. We have the whole of social space in which to find each other. We have everyday insubordination for showing our numbers and unmasking cowards. We have our hostility to this civilization for drawing lines of solidarity and of battle on a global scale.
Expect nothing from organizations. Beware of all existing social milieus, and above all, donít become one.
Itís not uncommon, in the course of a significant breaking of the social bond, to cross paths with organizations - political, labor, humanitarian, community associations, etc. Among their members, one may even find individuals who are sincere - if a little desperate - who are enthusiastic - if a little conniving. Organizations are attractive due to their apparent consistency - they have a history, a head office, a name, resources, a leader, a strategy and a discourse. They are nonetheless empty structures, which, in spite of their grand origins, can never be filled. In all their affairs, at every level, these organizations are concerned above all with their own survival as organizations, and little else. Their repeated betrayals have often alienated the commitment of their own rank and file. And this is why you can, on occasion, run into worthy beings within them. But the promise of the encounter can only be realized outside the organization and, unavoidably, at odds with it.
Far more dreadful are social milieus, with their supple texture, their gossip, and their informal hierarchies. Flee all milieus. Each and every milieu is orientated towards the neutralization of some truth. Literary circles exist to smother the clarity of writing. Anarchist milieus to blunt the directness of direct action. Scientific milieus to withhold the implications of their research from the majority of people today. Sport milieus to contain in their gyms the various forms of life they should create. Particularly to be avoided are the cultural and activist circles. They are the old peopleís homes where all revolutionary desires traditionally go to die. The task of cultural circles is to spot nascent intensities and to explain away the sense of whatever it is youíre doing, while the task of activist circles is to sap your energy for doing it. Activist milieus spread their diffuse web throughout the French territory, and are encountered on the path of every revolutionary development. They offer nothing but the story of their many defeats and the bitterness these have produced. Their exhaustion has made them incapable of seizing the possibilities of the present. Besides, to nurture their wretched passivity they talk far too much and this makes them unreliable when it comes to the police. Just as itís useless to expect anything from them, itís stupid to be disappointed by their sclerosis. Itís best to just abandon this dead weight.
All milieus are counter-revolutionary because they are only concerned with the preservation of their sad comfort.
Form communes
Communes come into being when people find each other, get on with each other, and decide on a common path. The commune is perhaps what gets decided at the very moment when we would normally part ways. Itís the joy of an encounter that survives its expected end. Itís what makes us say "we," and makes that an event. Whatís strange isnít that people who are attuned to each other form communes, but that they remain separated. Why shouldnít communes proliferate everywhere? In every factory, every street, every village, every school. At long last, the reign of the base committees! Communes that accept being what they are, where they are. And if possible, a multiplicity of communes that will displace the institutions of society: family, school, union, sports club, etc. Communes that arenít afraid, beyond their specifically political activities, to organize themselves for the material and moral survival of each of their members and of all those around them who remain adrift. Communes that would not define themselves - as collectives tend to do - by whatís inside and whatís outside them, but by the density of the ties at their core. Not by their membership, but by the spirit that animates them.
A commune forms every time a few people, freed of their individual straitjackets, decide to rely only on themselves and measure their strength against reality. Every wildcat strike is a commune; every building occupied collectively and on a clear basis is a commune, the action committees of 1968 were communes, as were the slave maroons in the United States, or Radio Alice in Bologna in 1977. Every commune seeks to be its own base. It seeks to dissolve the question of needs. It seeks to break all economic dependency and all political subjugation; it degenerates into a milieu the moment it loses contact with the truths on which it is founded. There are all kinds of communes that wait neither for the numbers nor the means to get organized, and even less for the "right moment" - which never arrives.
Insurrection
Sabotage every representative authority. Spread the palaver. Abolish general assemblies.
The first obstacle every social movement faces, long before the police proper, are the unions and the entire micro-bureaucracy whose job it is to control the struggle. Communes, collectives and gangs are naturally distrustful of these structures. Thatís why the parabureaucrats have for the past twenty years been inventing coordination committees and spokes councils that seem more innocent because they lack an established label, but are in fact the ideal terrain for their maneuvers. When a stray collective makes an attempt at autonomy, they wonít be satisfied until theyíve drained the attempt of all content by preventing any real question from being addressed. They get fierce and worked up not out of passion for debate but out of a passion for shutting it down. And when their dogged defense of apathy finally does the collective in, they explain its failure by citing a lack of political consciousness. It must be noted that in France the militant youth are well versed in the art of political manipulation, thanks largely to the frenzied activity of various trotskyist factions. They could not be expected to learn the lesson of the conflagration of November 2005: that coordinations are unnecessary where coordination exists, organizations arenít needed when people organize themselves.
Another reflex is to call a general assembly at the slightest sign of movement, and vote. This is a mistake. The business of voting and deciding a winner, is enough to turn the assembly into a nightmare, into a theater where all the various little pretenders to power confront each other. Here we suffer from the bad example of bourgeois parliaments. An assembly is not a place for decisions but for palaver, for free speech exercised without a goal.
The need to assemble is as constant among humans as the necessity of making decisions is rare. Assembling corresponds to the joy of feeling a common power. Decisions are vital only in emergency situations, where the exercise of democracy is already compromised. The rest of the time, "the democratic character of decision making" is only a problem for the fanatics of process. Itís not a matter of critiquing assemblies or abandoning them, but of liberating the speech, gestures, and interplay of beings that take place within them. We just have to see that each person comes to an assembly not only with a point of view or a motion, but with desires, attachments, capacities, forces, sadnesses and a certain disposition toward others, an openness. If we manage to set aside the fantasy of the General Assembly and replace it with an assembly of presences, if we manage to foil the constantly renewed temptation of hegemony, if we stop making the decision our final aim, then there is a chance for a kind of massification, one of those moments of collective crystallization where a decision suddenly takes hold of beings, completely or only in part.
The same goes for deciding on actions. By starting from the principle that "the action in question should govern the assemblyís agenda" we make both vigorous debate and effective action impossible. A large assembly made up of people who donít know each other is obliged to call on action specialists, that is, to abandon action for the sake of its control. On the one hand, people with mandates are by definition hindered in their actions, on the other hand, nothing hinders them from deceiving everyone.
Thereís no ideal form of action. Whatís essential is that action assume a certain form, that it give rise to a form instead of having one imposed on it. This presupposes a shared political and geographical position - like the sections of the Paris Commune during the French Revolution - as well as the circulation of a shared knowledge. As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up. Proliferating horizontal communication is also the best form of coordination among different communes, the best way to put an end to hegemony.