April 8, 2010
Takethecity.org – Recent events have raised many important questions: What does a real and vital movement look like? What is the nature of leadership in struggle? Is there a ‘correct’ way for us to fight against our conditions? Below is a statement from some friends addressing theoretical and practical concerns that have arisen in the last month or so.
“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language…. The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content. There the phrase went beyond the content – here the content goes beyond the phrase.” Karl Marx – 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
The above quote is just as integral to revolutionary struggle in the 21st century as it was for France in 1852. Across the vast human topography of class society, clear lines are being drawn between those who parody and fetishize the movements of dead generations in order to dominate the movements of today, and those who seek to expand forms of praxis and theory created in the current cycle of struggle, through the self-directed struggle of workers and students themselves.
After several weeks of smears, ad hominem attacks and political diatribes, the conversation surrounding the events of March 4th has finally shifted to the terrain of tactics and ideology. The small segment of humanity actually paying attention to this debate has been gifted with lapidary critiques of Anarcho-Imperialism, Anarcho-Situ-Autonomism, Demand-Nothingism, and – most recently — dangerous, “anger-based” Anarcha-Feminism. While these critiques are coming from various activist quarters, they all focus their attention on the supposed Take The City “Organization.” Each of these critiques (even if accurate) could land only a glancing blow, because the people who comprise their opposition are neither a party, nor an association nor even a website. In fact, the alleged saboteurs of March 4th, the occupiers of last April, the self-proclaimed “bitches,” the militant feminists, and many others are merely tendencies within a larger, informal network. This group has no party-line, no hierarchical structure and little theoretical unity. The only thing that unites us is camaraderie and solidarity on the one hand and an understanding of direct action and self-organization on the other. The following is a partial critique, by one tendency within this group, of the tactical and theoretical composition of what has been called the ‘student movement’.
Can a couple hundred students at an outdoor rally at Hunter be considered a movement? Can six or seven hundred people standing in a Midtown police pen be considered a movement? The reason the NYC ‘student movement’ must be put in quotations is because the label is largely self-flattery. We hope to show below that the tactics of the coalition of movement-builders are, at best, unhelpful to the development of a strong and vital movement and, at worst, preventative of one.
March 11, 2010
Another varmint statement posted on Take the City:
on march 4th the vanguard of submission (the I.S.O., maoist allies, & activist “organizers”) denounced the truly radical contingents that refused their policing. confronted w/ a loss of power, the specialists of protest took every measure to sabotage those autonomous subjects who refused reification as objects in their “movement.” the implications of possible native ‘uncontrollables’ being too much to bear, every student that called for concrete subversive action was branded an “outside agitator” or “agent provocateur.”
the comedy of all manner of guevara worshippers indicting anyone as an ‘outside agitator’ does not escape, but the implications of invoking this ever present counter-revolutionary watchword are sincere. in such an invocation a real division is made clear:
on the one side: those who represent spectacular conflict, who play the approved role of a “social conscience,” who side with the police when sedition belongs to desire, not party functionaries. this reformist bloc is committed to maintaining the reign of specialists, of even the school administration, for to question one hierarchy would counterfeit them all. their role is essential in the mystification of progress. “moralizing the marketplace,” wherein the world is delivered back into the hands of the same bosses who’ve decimated it, is the realm of this permitted resistance.
on the opposing side: those who would not separate revolution from daily life, those who refuse to be executed under the weight of “objective conditions,” but prefer to disrupt the continuity of the probable, the routine, the expected, & explore the possible, who recognize that there is no dialogue in hierarchy/no democracy under bosses, who extend their critique to every wing of the commodity life & refuse the lure of “causes,” who recognize that there is no ‘outside’ because of this totality, who realize poetry in the lyricism of action, who accept no revolution but the revolution of all creative life. Read the rest of this entry »