Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Society of the Spectacle 165-179


Chapter 7:
Territorial Domination

“Whoever becomes the ruler of a city that is accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it can expect to be destroyed by it, for it can always find a pretext for rebellion in the name of its former freedom and age-old customs, which are never forgotten despite the passage of time or any benefits it has received. No matter what the ruler does or what precautions he takes, the inhabitants will never forget that freedom or those customs — unless they are separated or dispersed . . .”

—Machiavelli, The Prince


Capitalist production has unified space, breaking down the boundaries between one society and the next. This unification is at the same time an extensive and intensive process of banalization. Just as the accumulation of commodities mass-produced for the abstract space of the market shattered all regional and legal barriers and all the Medieval guild restrictions that maintained the quality of craft production, it also undermined the autonomy and quality of places. This homogenizing power is the heavy artillery that has battered down all the walls of China.


The free space of commodities is constantly being altered and redesigned in order to become ever more identical to itself, to get as close as possible to motionless monotony.


While eliminating geographical distance, this society produces a new internal distance in the form of spectacular separation.


Tourism — human circulation packaged for consumption, a by-product of the circulation of commodities — is the opportunity to go and see what has been banalized. The economic organization of travel to different places already guarantees their equivalence. The modernization that has eliminated the time involved in travel has simultaneously eliminated any real space from it.


The society that reshapes its entire surroundings has evolved its own special technique for molding its own territory, which constitutes the material underpinning for all the facets of this project. Urbanism — “city planning” — is capitalism’s method for taking over the natural and human environment. Following its logical development toward total domination, capitalism now can and must refashion the totality of space into its own particular decor.


The capitalist need that is satisfied by urbanism’s conspicuous petrification of life can be described in Hegelian terms as a total predominance of a “peaceful coexistence within space” over “the restless becoming that takes place in the progression of time.”


While all the technical forces of capitalism contribute toward various forms of separation, urbanism provides the material foundation for those forces and prepares the ground for their deployment. It is the very technology of separation.


Urbanism is the modern method for solving the ongoing problem of safeguarding class power by atomizing workers who have been dangerously brought together by the conditions of urban production. The constant struggle that has had to be waged against anything that might lead to such coming together has found urbanism to be its most effective field of operation. The efforts of all the established powers since the French Revolution to increase the means of maintaining law and order in the streets have finally culminated in the suppression of the street itself. Evoking a “civilization . . . moving along a one-way road,” Lewis Mumford, in The City in History, points out that “with the advent of long-distance mass communications, the isolation of the population has become a much more effective means of control.” But the general trend toward isolation, which is the underlying essence of urbanism, must also include a controlled reintegration of the workers based on the planned needs of production and consumption. This reintegration into the system means bringing isolated individuals together as isolated individuals. Factories, cultural centers, tourist resorts and housing developments are specifically designed to foster this type of pseudocommunity. The same collective isolation prevails even within the family cell, where the omnipresent receivers of spectacular messages fill the isolation with the ruling images — images that derive their full power precisely from that isolation.


In all previous periods architectural innovations were designed exclusively for the ruling classes. Now for the first time a new architecture has been specifically designed for the poor. The aesthetic poverty and vast proliferation of this new experience in habitation stem from its mass character, which character in turn stems both from its function and from the modern conditions of construction. The obvious core of these conditions is the authoritarian decisionmaking which abstractly converts the environment into an environment of abstraction. The same architecture appears everywhere as soon as industrialization has begun, even in the countries that are furthest behind in this regard, as an essential foundation for implanting the new type of social existence. The contradiction between the growth of society’s material powers and the continued lack of progress toward any conscious control of those powers is revealed as glaringly by the developments of urbanism as by the issues of thermonuclear weapons or of birth control (where the possibility of manipulating heredity is already on the horizon).


The self-destruction of the urban environment is already well under way. The explosion of cities into the countryside, strewing it with what Mumford calls “formless masses of urban debris,” is directly governed by the imperatives of consumption. The dictatorship of the automobile — the pilot product of the first stage of commodity abundance — has left its mark on the landscape with the dominance of freeways, which tear up the old urban centers and promote an ever-wider dispersal. Within this process various forms of partially reconstituted urban fabric fleetingly crystallize around “distribution factories” — giant shopping centers built in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by acres of parking lots. But these temples of frenetic consumption are subject to the same irresistible centrifugal momentum, which casts them aside as soon as they have engendered enough surrounding development to become overburdened secondary centers in their turn. But the technical organization of consumption is only the most visible aspect of the general process of decomposition that has brought the city to the point of consuming itself.


Economic history, whose entire previous development centered around the opposition between city and country, has now progressed to the point of nullifying both. As a result of the current paralysis of any historical development beyond the independent movement of the economy, the incipient disappearance of city and country does not represent a transcendence of their separation, but their simultaneous collapse. The mutual erosion of city and country, resulting from the failure of the historical movement through which existing urban reality could have been overcome, is reflected in the eclectic mixture of their decomposed fragments that blanket the most industrialized regions of the world.


Universal history was born in cities, and it reached maturity with the city’s decisive victory over the country. For Marx, one of the greatest merits of the bourgeoisie as a revolutionary class was the fact that it “subjected the country to the city,” whose “very air is liberating.” But if the history of the city is a history of freedom, it is also a history of tyranny — a history of state administrations controlling not only the countryside but the cities themselves. The city has served as the historical battleground for the struggle for freedom without yet having been able to win it. The city is the focal point of history because it embodies both a concentration of social power, which is what makes historical enterprises possible, and a consciousness of the past. The current destruction of the city is thus merely one more reflection of humanity’s failure, thus far, to subordinate the economy to historical consciousness; of society’s failure to unify itself by reappropriating the powers that have been alienated from it.


“The country represents the complete opposite: isolation and separation” (The German Ideology). As urbanism destroys the cities, it recreates a pseudocountryside devoid both of the natural relations of the traditional countryside and of the direct (and directly challenged) social relations of the historical city. The conditions of habitation and spectacular control in today’s “planned environment” have created an artificial neopeasantry. The geographical dispersal and the narrow-mindedness that have always prevented the peasantry from undertaking independent action and becoming a creative historical force are equally characteristic of these modern producers, for whom a world of their own making is as inaccessible as were the natural rhythms of work in agrarian societies. The peasantry was the steadfast foundation of “Oriental despotism,” in that its inherent fragmentation gave rise to a natural tendency toward bureaucratic centralization. The neopeasantry generated by the increasing bureaucratization of the modern state differs from the old in that its apathy must now be historically manufactured and maintained; natural ignorance has been replaced by the organized spectacle of falsification. The landscape of the “new cities” inhabited by this technological pseudopeasantry is a glaring expression of the repression of historical time on which they have been built. Their motto could be: “Nothing has ever happened here, and nothing ever will.” The forces of historical absence have been able to create their own landscape because historical liberation, which must take place in the cities, has not yet occurred.


The history that threatens this twilight world could potentially subject space to a directly experienced time. Proletarian revolution is the critique of human geography through which individuals and communities could create places and events commensurate with the appropriation no longer just of their work, but of their entire history. The ever-changing playing field of this new world and the freely chosen variations in the rules of the game will regenerate a diversity of local scenes that are independent without being insular. And this diversity will revive the possibility of authentic journeys — journeys within an authentic life that is itself understood as a journey containing its whole meaning within itself.


The most revolutionary idea concerning urbanism is not itself urbanistic, technological or aesthetic. It is the project of reconstructing the entire environment in accordance with the needs of the power of workers councils, of the antistate dictatorship of the proletariat, of executory dialogue. Such councils can be effective only if they transform existing conditions in their entirety; and they cannot set themselves any lesser task if they wish to be recognized and to recognize themselves in a world of their own making.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Society of the Spectacle 147-164


Chapter 6:
Spectacular Time

“We have nothing of our own except time, which even the homeless can experience.”

—Baltasar Graci├ín, The Art of Worldly Wisdom


The time of production — commodified time — is an infinite accumulation of equivalent intervals. It is irreversible time made abstract, in which each segment need only demonstrate by the clock its purely quantitative equality with all the others. It has no reality apart from its exchangeability. Under the social reign of commodified time, “time is everything, man is nothing; he is at most the carcass of time” (The Poverty of Philosophy). This devalued time is the complete opposite of time as “terrain of human development.”


This general time of human nondevelopment also has a complementary aspect — a consumable form of time based on the present mode of production and presenting itself in everyday life as a pseudocyclical time.


This pseudocyclical time is in fact merely a consumable disguise of the production system’s commodified time. It exhibits the latter’s essential traits: homogenous exchangeable units and suppression of any qualitative dimension. But as a by-product of commodified time whose function is to promote and maintain the backwardness of everyday life, it is loaded with pseudovalorizations and manifests itself as a succession of pseudoindividualized moments.


Pseudocyclical time is associated with the consumption of modern economic survival — the augmented survival in which everyday experience is cut off from decisionmaking and subjected no longer to the natural order, but to the pseudo-nature created by alienated labor. It is thus quite natural that it echoes the old cyclical rhythm that governed survival in preindustrial societies, incorporating the natural vestiges of cyclical time while generating new variants: day and night, work and weekend, periodic vacations.


Pseudocyclical time is a time that has been transformed by industry. The time based on commodity production is itself a consumable commodity, one that recombines everything that the disintegration of the old unitary societies had differentiated into private life, economic life, and political life. The entire consumable time of modern society ends up being treated as a raw material for various new products put on the market as socially controlled uses of time. “A product that already exists in a form suitable for consumption may nevertheless serve as raw material for some other product” (Capital).


In its most advanced sectors, concentrated capitalism is increasingly tending to market “fully equipped” blocks of time, each functioning as a unified commodity combining a variety of other commodities. In the expanding economy of “services” and leisure activities, the payment for these blocks of time is equally unified: “everything’s included,” whether it is a matter of spectacular living environments, touristic pseudotravel, subscriptions to cultural consumption, or even the sale of sociability itself in the form of “exciting conversations” and “meetings with celebrities.” Spectacular commodities of this type, which would obviously never sell were it not for the increasing impoverishment of the realities they parody, just as obviously reflect the modernization of sales techniques by being payable on credit.


Consumable pseudocyclical time is spectacular time, both in the narrow sense as time spent consuming images and in the broader sense as image of the consumption of time. The time spent consuming images (images which in turn serve to publicize all the other commodities) is both the particular terrain where the spectacle’s mechanisms are most fully implemented and the general goal that those mechanisms present, the focus and epitome of all particular consumptions. Thus, the time that modern society is constantly seeking to “save” by increasing transportation speeds or using packaged soups ends up being spent by the average American in watching television three to six hours a day. As for the social image of the consumption of time, it is exclusively dominated by leisure time and vacations — moments portrayed, like all spectacular commodities, at a distance and as desirable by definition. These commodified moments are explicitly presented as moments of real life whose cyclical return we are supposed to look forward to. But all that is really happening is that the spectacle is displaying and reproducing itself at a higher level of intensity. What is presented as true life turns out to be merely a more truly spectacular life.


Although the present age presents itself as a series of frequently recurring festivities, it is an age that knows nothing of real festivals. The moments within cyclical time when members of a community joined together in a luxurious expenditure of life are impossible for a society that lacks both community and luxury. Its vulgarized pseudofestivals are parodies of real dialogue and gift-giving; they may incite waves of excessive economic spending, but they lead to nothing but disillusionments, which can be compensated only by the promise of some new disillusion to come. The less use value is present in the time of modern survival, the more highly it is exalted in the spectacle. The reality of time has been replaced by the publicity of time.


While the consumption of cyclical time in ancient societies was consistent with the real labor of those societies, the pseudocyclical consumption of developed economies contradicts the abstract irreversible time implicit in their system of production. Cyclical time was the really lived time of unchanging illusions. Spectacular time is the illusorily lived time of a constantly changing reality.


The production process’s constant innovations are not echoed in consumption, which presents nothing but an expanded repetition of the past. Because dead labor continues to dominate living labor, in spectacular time the past continues to dominate the present.


The lack of general historical life also means that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events that vie for attention in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those who are informed about them; and in any case they are soon forgotten due to their increasingly frenetic replacement at every pulsation of the spectacular machinery. Conversely, what is really lived has no relation to the society’s official version of irreversible time, and conflicts with the pseudocyclical rhythm of that time’s consumable by-products. This individual experience of a disconnected everyday life remains without language, without concepts, and without critical access to its own past, which has nowhere been recorded. Uncommunicated, misunderstood and forgotten, it is smothered by the spectacle’s false memory of the unmemorable.


The spectacle, considered as the reigning society’s method for paralyzing history and memory and for suppressing any history based on historical time, represents a false consciousness of time.


In order to force the workers into the status of “free” producers and consumers of commodified time, it was first necessary to violently expropriate their time. The imposition of the new spectacular form of time became possible only after this initial dispossession of the producers.


The unavoidable biological limitations of the work force — evident both in its dependence on the natural cycle of sleeping and waking and in the debilitating effects of irreversible time over each individual’s lifetime — are treated by the modern production system as strictly secondary considerations. As such, they are ignored in that system’s official proclamations and in the consumable trophies that embody its relentless triumphant progress. Fixated on the delusory center around which his world seems to move, the spectator no longer experiences life as a journey toward fulfillment and toward death. Once he has given up on really living he can no longer acknowledge his own death. Life insurance ads merely insinuate that he may be guilty of dying without having provided for the smooth continuation of the system following the resultant economic loss, while the promoters of the “American way of death” stress his capacity to preserve most of the appearances of life in his post-mortem state. On all the other fronts of advertising bombardment it is strictly forbidden to grow old. Everybody is urged to economize on their “youth-capital,” though such capital, however carefully managed, has little prospect of attaining the durable and cumulative properties of economic capital. This social absence of death coincides with the social absence of life.


As Hegel showed, time is the necessary alienation, the terrain where the subject realizes himself by losing himself, becomes other in order to become truly himself. In total contrast, the current form of alienation is imposed on the producers of an estranged present. In this spatial alienation, the society that radically separates the subject from the activity it steals from him is in reality separating him from his own time. This potentially surmountable social alienation is what has prevented and paralyzed the possibilities and risks of a living alienation within time.


Behind the fashions that come and go on the frivolous surface of the spectacle of pseudocyclical time, the grand style of an era can always be found in what is governed by the secret yet obvious necessity for revolution.


The natural basis of time, the concrete experience of its passage, becomes human and social by existing for humanity. The limitations of human practice imposed by the various stages of labor have humanized time and also dehumanized it, in the forms of cyclical time and of the separated irreversible time of economic production. The revolutionary project of a classless society, of an all-embracing historical life, implies the withering away of the social measurement of time in favor of a federation of independent times — a federation of playful individual and collective forms of irreversible time that are simultaneously present. This would be the temporal realization of authentic communism, which “abolishes everything that exists independently of individuals.”


The world already dreams of such a time. In order to actually live it, it only needs to become fully conscious of it.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


The additional hinderance caused by rebellious local authorities could grind the machine to a halt. Food and fuel would unable to be transported. Any situation impeding cheap energy would handicap military efforts once national reserves were exhausted. Destroying sections of the interstate and regional highway system would paralyze the continent. This nation was built on cheap resources, necessitating such actions as the 1991 Gulf War. A civil war could erupt along regional lines. Unity would evaporate with creature comforts. The United States could follow the world wide trend toward balkinization.[34] Technology might drive apart by promoting decadent isolation where few care about their neighbors. Trade no longer requires personnel contact. Perhaps the situation will come full circle -- provided anyone survives.

[34] World government will not be a reality anytime soon, except along economic lines. The United Nations is a poor joke.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


4. Regarding Martial Law:

In response to massive civil unrest, the military is always called upon to augment law enforcement and quell disturbances. The 1992 Los Angeles riots were handled in this manner. A truly national disturbance would even tax the military. Uncooperative local police forces could seriously hinder or even undermine those efforts. Many troops would resent their role, thereby causing dissension in the ranks as they were pushed to full police duty. The military has always played a backing role, and would find itself unprepared for primacy. The lack of local intelligence would cause headaches. Military personnel would not be employed anywhere with local connections due to possible sympathies. Strong arm tactics would halt trade, worsening the crisis. The lone military would prove ineffective.

Friday, May 27, 2005


The resultant misery brought about by a governmental collapse must be regarded being completely undesirable. Participation in the few remaining open processes might ease or negate some consequences. One must not be above utilizing channels or offices for these ends. Idealism is a luxury employed by losers. Resource allocation could eventually prove crucial. Sustained anarchy is a fantasy. The power vacuum will be filled. All majorities will be able to enforce their will unchecked. The constitution will be only so many words. Inequality will finally be a reality. One will be forced to protect rights. The question: True freedom or another form of slavery?

Thursday, May 26, 2005


i. All cops are not swine;

ii. All criminals are not victims.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Any contemporary coup or revolt would be swatted like a fly,
then exploited for maximum advantage by propaganda. Examples will be made to the fullest extent possible. Mcvey's executions will offer an opportunity greater than his trial. Sedition is currently not possible. Technologies, designed to fight nuclear war, have been directed internally. This might be lessened over time. Individuals may accomplish much with ever cheaper tools. The system will rot from within. Stasis is not maintainable. Let the reactionary commit suicide. Tax dollars have never been better spent: a fitting end for patriots. These people waved flags celebrating other crushing defeats. Their enthusiasm seems waning... Dinosaurs should be extinct. Avoid purges and wait. Contacts with local law enforcement may prove beneficial, including the removal of certain records...

Alternatives are not rote.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


As the economy slowly sinks further into a debt quagmire and better wage jobs move elsewhere, the average standard of living will decrease accordingly. A breaking point would probably center around an un-mitigated currency crisis. Many other factors would certainly contribute. The broken back of the power elite may unleash a brief period of anarchy. Less pleasant factions will need to be fought off. Any remaining far-right supporters will be long weakened and easily swept away. The power vacuum will be filled by support of either the remaining police or military. The lesser evil is idealistically unappealing. However, reality is another matter. Civil law is preferable to martial law.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Note: I call this a draft for good reason.

The federal government is a massive societal support system. Many benefits are incurred. The majority would suffer greatly were it to collapse. Most would never support a violent overthrow for these reasons alone. Circumstances could change in another few generations with its degeneration. A global debt-ridden economy could provide enough sentiment along regional lines. Big brother's pockets run deep, but a global depression might prove impossible to overcome. Entropy must affect all closed systems. The world population will eventually peak. Once the global economy is integrated and cannot expand, the analogous thermodynamic condition will occur. Disorder will gradually increase to crisis levels hitherto unseen. In the United States any significant militant movements will have been crushed. Their existence will be historical curiosity, except possibly lukewarm environmentalism.[33] The willfully patient may be the only prepared. Hence, the individual might seize the moment. A few worthy allies could prove crucial.

[33] Unless debatable global warming or significant ozone depletion becomes a noticeable reality. Even propaganda might not adequately quell resentment.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Society of the Spectacle 125-146


Chapter 5:
Time and History

O, gentlemen, the time of life is short! . . .
An if we live, we live to tread on kings.

—Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I


Man, “the negative being who is solely to the extent that he suppresses Being,” is one with time. Man’s appropriation of his own nature is at the same time his grasp of the development of the universe. “History is itself a real part of natural history, of the transformation of nature into man” (Marx). Conversely, this “natural history” has no real existence other than through the process of human history, the only vantage point from which one can take in that historical totality (like the modern telescope whose power enables one to look back in time at the receding nebulas at the periphery of the universe). History has always existed, but not always in its historical form. The temporalization of humanity, brought about through the mediation of a society, amounts to a humanization of time. The unconscious movement of time becomes manifest and true within historical consciousness.


True (though still hidden) historical movement begins with the slow and imperceptible development of the “real nature of man” — the “nature that is born with human history, out of the generative action of human society.” But even when such a society has developed a technology and a language and is already a product of its own history, it is conscious only of a perpetual present. Knowledge is carried on only by the living, never going beyond the memory of the society’s oldest members. Neither death nor procreation is understood as a law of time. Time remains motionless, like an enclosed space. When a more complex society finally becomes conscious of time, it tries to negate it — it views time not as something that passes, but as something that returns. This static type of society organizes time in a cyclical manner, in accordance with its own direct experience of nature.


Cyclical time is already dominant among the nomadic peoples because they find the same conditions repeated at each moment of their journey. As Hegel notes, “the wandering of nomads is only nominal because it is limited to uniform spaces.” When a society settles in a particular location and gives space a content by developing distinctive areas within it, it finds itself confined within that locality. The periodic return to similar places now becomes the pure return of time in the same place, the repetition of a sequence of activities. The transition from pastoral nomadism to sedentary agriculture marks the end of an idle and contentless freedom and the beginning of labor. The agrarian mode of production, governed by the rhythm of the seasons, is the basis for fully developed cyclical time. Eternity is within this time, it is the return of the same here on earth. Myth is the unitary mental construct which guarantees that the cosmic order conforms with the order that this society has in fact already established within its frontiers.


The social appropriation of time and the production of man by human labor develop within a society divided into classes. The power that establishes itself above the poverty of the society of cyclical time, the class that organizes this social labor and appropriates its limited surplus value, simultaneously appropriates the temporal surplus value resulting from its organization of social time: it alone possesses the irreversible time of the living. The wealth that can only be concentrated in the hands of the rulers and spent in extravagant festivities is also spent as a squandering of historical time at the surface of society. The owners of this historical surplus value are the only ones in a position to know and enjoy real events. Separated from the collective organization of time associated with the repetitive production at the base of social life, this historical time flows independently above its own static community. This is the time of adventure and war, the time in which the masters of cyclical society pursue their personal histories; it is also the time that emerges in the clashes with foreign communities that disrupt the unchanging social order. History thus arises as something alien to people, as something they never sought and from which they had thought themselves protected. But it also revives the negative human restlessness that had been at the very origin of this whole (temporarily suspended) development.


In itself, cyclical time is a time without conflict. But conflict is already present even in this infancy of time, as history first struggles to become history in the practical activity of the masters. This history creates a surface irreversibility; its movement constitutes the very time it uses up within the inexhaustible time of cyclical society.


“Static societies” are societies that have reduced their historical movement to a minimum and that have managed to maintain their internal conflicts and their conflicts with the natural and human environment in a constant equilibrium. Although the extraordinary diversity of the institutions established for this purpose bears eloquent testimony to the flexibility of human nature’s self-creation, this diversity is apparent only to the external observer, the anthropologist who looks back from the vantage point of historical time. In each of these societies a definitive organizational structure has eliminated any possibility of change. The total conformism of their social practices, with which all human possibilities are identified for all time, has no external limit but the fear of falling back into a formless animal condition. The members of these societies remain human at the price of always remaining the same.


With the emergence of political power — which seems to be associated with the last great technological revolutions (such as iron smelting) at the threshold of a period that would experience no further major upheavals until the rise of modern industry — kinship ties begin to dissolve. The succession of generations within a natural, purely cyclical time begins to be replaced by a linear succession of powers and events. This irreversible time is the time of those who rule, and the dynasty is its first unit of measurement. Writing is the rulers’ weapon. In writing, language attains its complete independence as a mediation between consciousnesses. But this independence coincides with the independence of separate power, the mediation that shapes society. With writing there appears a consciousness that is no longer carried and transmitted directly among the living — an impersonal memory, the memory of the administration of society. “Writings are the thoughts of the state; archives are its memory” (Novalis).


The chronicle is the expression of the irreversible time of power. It also serves to inspire the continued progression of that time by recording the past out of which it has developed, since this orientation of time tends to collapse with the fall of each particular power and would otherwise sink back into the indifferent oblivion of cyclical time (the only time known to the peasant masses who, during the rise and fall of all the empires and their chronologies, never change). The owners of history have given time a direction, a direction which is also a meaning. But this history develops and perishes separately, leaving the underlying society unchanged, because it remains separated from the common reality. This is why we tend to reduce the history of Oriental empires to a history of religions: the chronologies that have fallen to ruins have left nothing but the seemingly independent history of the illusions that veiled them. The masters who used the protection of myth to make history their private property did so first of all in the realm of illusion. In China and Egypt, for example, they long held a monopoly on the immortality of the soul; and their earliest officially recognized dynasties were nothing but imaginary reconstructions of the past. But this illusory ownership by the masters was the only ownership then possible, both of the common history and of their own history. As their real historical power expanded, this illusory-mythical ownership became increasingly vulgarized. All these consequences flowed from the simple fact that as the masters played the role of mythically guaranteeing the permanence of cyclical time (as in the seasonal rites performed by the Chinese emperors), they themselves achieved a relative liberation from cyclical time.


The dry, unexplained chronology that a deified authority offered to its subjects, who were supposed to accept it as the earthly fulfillment of mythic commandments, was destined to be transcended and transformed into conscious history. But for this to happen, sizeable groups of people had to have experienced real participation in history. Out of this practical communication between those who have recognized each other as possessors of a unique present, who have experienced a qualitative richness of events in their own activity and who are at home in their own era, arises the general language of historical communication. Those for whom irreversible time truly exists discover in it both the memorable and the threat of oblivion: “Herodotus of Halicarnassus here presents the results of his researches, so that time will not abolish the deeds of men. . . .”


Examining history amounts to examining the nature of power. Greece was the moment when power and changes in power were first debated and understood. It was a democracy of the masters of society — a total contrast to the despotic state, where power settles accounts only with itself, within the impenetrable obscurity of its inner sanctum, by means of palace revolutions, which are beyond the pale of discussion whether they fail or succeed. But the shared power in the Greek communities was limited to the consumption of a social life whose production remained the separate and static domain of the servile class. The only people who lived were those who did not work. The divisions among the Greek communities and their struggles to exploit foreign cities were the externalized expression of the principle of separation on which each of them was based internally. Although Greece had dreamed of universal history, it did not succeed in unifying itself in the face of foreign invasion, or even in unifying the calendars of its independent city-states. Historical time became conscious in Greece, but it was not yet conscious of itself.


The disappearance of the particular conditions that had favored the Greek communities brought about a regression of Western historical thought, but it did not lead to a restoration of the old mythic structures. The clashes of the Mediterranean peoples and the rise and fall of the Roman state gave rise instead to semihistorical religions, which became a new armor for separate power and basic components of a new consciousness of time.


The monotheistic religions were a compromise between myth and history, between the cyclical time that still governed the sphere of production and the irreversible time that was the theater of conflicts and regroupings among different peoples. The religions that evolved out of Judaism were abstract universal acknowledgments of an irreversible time that had become democratized and open to all, but only in the realm of illusion. Time is totally oriented toward a single final event: “The Kingdom of God is soon to come.” These religions were rooted in the soil of history, but they remained radically opposed to history. The semihistorical religions establish a qualitative point of departure in time (the birth of Christ, the flight of Mohammed), but their irreversible time — introducing an accumulation that would take the form of conquest in Islam and of increasing capital in Reformation Christianity — is inverted in religious thought and becomes a sort of countdown: waiting for time to run out before the Last Judgment and the advent of the other, true world. Eternity has emerged from cyclical time, as something beyond it. It is also the element that restrains the irreversibility of time, suppressing history within history itself by positioning itself on the other side of irreversible time as a pure point into which cyclical time returns and disappears. Bossuet will still say: “By way of time, which passes, we enter eternity, which does not pass.”


The Middle Ages, an incomplete mythical world whose consummation lay outside itself, is the period when cyclical time, though still governing the major part of production, really begins to be undermined by history. An element of irreversible time is recognized in the successive stages of each individual’s life. Life is seen as a one-way journey through a world whose meaning lies elsewhere: the pilgrim is the person who leaves cyclical time behind and actually becomes the traveler that everyone else is symbolically. Personal historical life still finds its fulfillment within the sphere of power, whether in struggles waged by power or in struggles over disputed power; but power’s irreversible time is now shared to an unlimited degree due to the general unity brought about by the oriented time of the Christian Era — a world of armed faith, where the adventures of the masters revolve around fealty and disputes over who owes fealty to whom. Feudal society was born from the merging of “the organizational structures of the conquering armies that developed in the process of conquest” with “the productive forces found in the conquered regions” (The German Ideology), and the factors contributing to the organization of those productive forces include the religious language in which they were expressed. Social domination was divided between the Church and the state, the latter power being in turn subdivided in the complex relations of suzerainty and vassalage within and between rural domains and urban communities. This diversification of potential historical life reflected the gradual emergence (following the failure of that great official enterprise of the medieval world, the Crusades) of the era’s unnoticed innovation: the irreversible time that was silently undermining the society, the time experienced by the bourgeoisie in the production of commodities, the foundation and expansion of cities, and the commercial discovery of the planet — a practical experimentation that destroyed any mythical organization of the cosmos once and for all.


With the waning of the Middle Ages, the irreversible time that had invaded society was experienced by a consciousness still attached to the old order as an obsession with death. This was the melancholy of a world passing away, the last world where the security of myth still counterbalanced history; and for this melancholy all earthly things move inevitably toward decay. The great European peasant revolts were also an attempt to respond to history — a history that was violently wresting the peasants from the patriarchal slumber that had been imposed by their feudal guardians. The millenarians’ utopian aspiration of creating heaven on earth revived a dream that had been at the origin of the semihistorical religions, when the early Christian communities, like the Judaic messianism from which they sprung, responded to the troubles and misfortunes of their time by envisioning the imminent realization of the Kingdom of God, thereby adding an element of unrest and subversion to ancient society. When Christianity reached the point of sharing power within the empire, it denounced whatever still remained of this hope as mere superstition. This is what St. Augustine was doing when, in a formula that can be seen as the archetype of all the modern ideological apologetics, he declared that the Kingdom of God had in fact already come long ago — that it was nothing other than the established Church. The social revolts of the millenarian peasantry naturally began by defining their goal as the overthrow of that Church. But millenarianism developed in a historical world, not on the terrain of myth. Modern revolutionary expectations are not irrational continuations of the religious passion of millenarianism, as Norman Cohn thought he had demonstrated in The Pursuit of the Millennium. On the contrary, millenarianism, revolutionary class struggle speaking the language of religion for the last time, was already a modern revolutionary tendency, a tendency that lacked only the consciousness that it was a purely historical movement. The millenarians were doomed to defeat because they were unable to recognize their revolution as their own undertaking. The fact that they hesitated to act until they had received some external sign of God’s will was an ideological corollary to the insurgent peasants’ practice of following leaders from outside their own ranks. The peasant class could not attain a clear understanding of the workings of society or of how to conduct its own struggle, and because it lacked these conditions for unifying its action and consciousness, it expressed its project and waged its wars with the imagery of an earthly paradise.


The Renaissance was a joyous break with eternity. Though seeking its heritage and legitimacy in the ancient world, it represented a new form of historical life. Its irreversible time was that of a never-ending accumulation of knowledge, and the historical consciousness engendered by the experience of democratic communities and of the forces that destroy them now took up once again, with Machiavelli, the analysis of secularized power, saying the previously unsayable about the state. In the exuberant life of the Italian cities, in the creation of festivals, life is experienced as an enjoyment of the passage of time. But this enjoyment of transience is itself transient. The song of Lorenzo de’ Medici, which Burckhardt considered “the very spirit of the Renaissance,” is the eulogy this fragile historical festival delivers on itself: “How beautiful the spring of life — and how quickly it vanishes.”


The constant tendency toward the monopolization of historical life by the absolute-monarchist state — a transitional form on the way to complete domination by the bourgeois class — brings into clear view the nature of the bourgeoisie’s new type of irreversible time. The bourgeoisie is associated with a labor time that has finally been freed from cyclical time. With the bourgeoisie, work becomes work that transforms historical conditions. The bourgeoisie is the first ruling class for which work is a value. And the bourgeoisie, which suppresses all privilege and recognizes no value that does not stem from the exploitation of labor, has appropriately identified its own value as a ruling class with labor, and has made the progress of labor the measure of its own progress. The class that accumulates commodities and capital continually modifies nature by modifying labor itself, by unleashing labor’s productivity. At the stage of absolute monarchy, all social life was already concentrated within the ornamented poverty of the Court, the gaudy trappings of a bleak state administration whose apex was the “profession of king”; and all particular historical freedoms had to surrender to this new power. The free play of the feudal lords’ irreversible time came to an end in their last, lost battles — in the Fronde and in the Scottish uprising in support of Bonny Prince Charlie. The world now had a new foundation.


The victory of the bourgeoisie is the victory of a profoundly historical time, because it is the time corresponding to an economic production that continuously transforms society from top to bottom. So long as agrarian production remains the predominant form of labor, the cyclical time that remains at the base of society reinforces the joint forces of tradition, which tend to hold back any historical movement. But the irreversible time of the bourgeois economy eradicates those vestiges throughout the world. History, which until then had seemed to involve only the actions of individual members of the ruling class, and which had thus been recorded as a mere chronology of events, is now understood as a general movement — a relentless movement that crushes any individuals in its path. By discovering its basis in political economy, history becomes aware of what had previously been unconscious; but this basis remains unconscious because it cannot be brought to light. This blind prehistory, this new fate that no one controls, is the only thing that the commodity economy has democratized.


The history that is present in all the depths of society tends to become invisible at the surface. The triumph of irreversible time is also its metamorphosis into a time of things, because the weapon that brought about its victory was the mass production of objects in accordance with the laws of the commodity. The main product that economic development has transformed from a luxurious rarity to a commonly consumed item is thus history itself — but only in the form of the history of the abstract movement of things that dominates all qualitative aspects of life. While the earlier cyclical time had supported an increasing degree of historical time lived by individuals and groups, the irreversible time of production tends to socially eliminate such lived time.


The bourgeoisie has thus made irreversible historical time known and has imposed it on society, but it has prevented society from using it. “Once there was history, but not any more,” because the class of owners of the economy, which is inextricably tied to economic history, must repress every other irreversible use of time because it is directly threatened by them all. The ruling class, made up of specialists in the possession of things who are themselves therefore possessed by things, is forced to link its fate with the preservation of this reified history, that is, with the preservation of a new immobility within history. Meanwhile the worker at the base of society is for the first time not materially estranged from history, because the irreversible movement is now generated from that base. By demanding to live the historical time that it produces, the proletariat discovers the simple, unforgettable core of its revolutionary project; and each previously defeated attempt to carry out this project represents a possible point of departure for a new historical life.


The irreversible time of the bourgeoisie that had just seized power was at first called by its own name and assigned an absolute origin: Year One of the Republic. But the revolutionary ideology of general freedom that had served to overthrow the last remnants of a myth-based ordering of values, along with all the traditional forms of social organization, was already unable to completely conceal the real goal that it had draped in Roman costume: unrestricted freedom of trade. Commodity society, discovering its need to restore the passivity that it had so profoundly shaken in order to establish its own unchallenged rule, now found that, for its purposes, “Christianity with its cult of man in the abstract . . . is the most fitting form of religion” (Capital). The bourgeoisie thus entered into a compromise with that religion, a compromise reflected in its presentation of time: the Revolutionary calendar was abandoned and irreversible time returned to the straitjacket of a duly extended Christian Era.


With the development of capitalism, irreversible time has become globally unified. Universal history becomes a reality because the entire world is brought under the sway of this time’s development. But this history that is everywhere simultaneously the same is as yet nothing but an intrahistorical rejection of history. What appears the world over as the same day is merely the time of economic production, time cut up into equal abstract fragments. This unified irreversible time belongs to the global market, and thus also to the global spectacle.


The irreversible time of production is first of all the measure of commodities. The time officially recognized throughout the world as the general time of society actually only reflects the specialized interests that constitute it, and thus is merely one particular type of time.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Any contemporary coup or revolt would be swatted like a fly, then exploited for maximum advantage by propaganda. Examples will be made to the fullest extent possible. Mcvey's executions will offer an opportunity greater than his trial. Sedition is currently not possible. Technologies, designed to fight nuclear war, have been directed internally. This might be lessened over time. Individuals may accomplish much with ever cheaper tools. The system will rot from within. Stasis is not maintainable. Let the reactionary commit suicide. Tax dollars have never been better spent: a fitting end for patriots. These people waved flags celebrating other crushing defeats. Their enthusiasm seems waning... Dinosaurs should be extinct. Avoid purges and wait. Contacts with local law enforcement may prove beneficial, including the removal of certain records...

Alternatives are not rote.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


The federal government is a massive societal support system. Many benefits are incurred. The majority would suffer greatly were it to collapse. Most would never support a violent overthrow for these reasons alone. Circumstances could change in another few generations with its degeneration. A global debt-ridden economy could provide enough sentiment along regional lines. Big brother's pockets run deep, but a global depression might prove impossible to overcome. Entropy must affect all closed systems. The world population will eventually peak. Once the global economy is integrated and cannot expand, the analogous thermodynamic condition will occur. Disorder will gradually increase to crisis levels hitherto unseen. In the United States any significant militant movements will have been crushed. Their existence will be historical curiosity, except possibly lukewarm environmentalism.

[33] The willfully patient may be the only prepared. Hence, the individual might seize the moment. A few worthy allies could prove crucial.

[33] Unless debatable global warming or significant ozone depletion becomes a noticeable reality. Even propaganda might not adequately quell resentment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


The United States is experiencing social pressure unique and unseen in world history. Amalgamated immigrant cultures have never been observed on this scale. The traditions[27], stability, geography[28], support structure[29], industry and a massive resource base are a combination with no other parallels. Regional competitions are less intense since 1865, the last major internal war, being connected by a strong federal system. The roots are not as deep. Other world powers do not share all these advantages. Europe and Japan are small territories. Russia is cold and remote. China has been too unstable. Most countries are intellectually inbred. The U.S.A. also excels in war and destruction. The Native American population has been almost eliminated.[30] Spain was brought to its colonial knees. Germany and Japan were simultaneously crushed. Iraq was devastated during 100 days of intense bombing. The Soviet Union was checked. Defeat has only come from lack of will (not necessarily a bad thing.) The binding national concepts were primarily influenced by European thought and religions. However, it has managed to grow from others. The changing ethnic composition has threatened certain notions regarding supremacy. Opportunists have seized upon this discontent. Real and imaginary grievances have been capitalized for maximum advantage. A relatively small faction has seized the moment to appear representative of a larger whole, whereas propaganda used this stance as an excuse to eliminate all opposition. Anyone who questions is branded a racist or militia (which is associated). The far-right reactionary fringe fascist agenda is even worse than the slow grinding wheels of the machine. Unfounded fears are being whipped into a frenzy, thus driving the herd deeper into the sickening embrace of the power structure. The right is being purged similar to the left. Ironically, many had been the loudest cheering section while the same happened to others. The left was a scapegoat for cold war alarmism. The right is deeply entrenched, therefore it will be eliminated more cleanly. Military factions would be more likely to support their agenda. A small number has advocated violence. Passive resistance is not part of their world view. Hence, less time will be spent tearing them down.[31] Contrary to popular propaganda, the Oklahoma City bombing clearly demonstrates the possibility of being caught in the middle, either being willing to trample over others. The local police may be the only possible allies against both. The elected county sheriffs may be the most important. Their office is the only directly elected, able to employ force.[32] Some have been willing to prohibit or prevent state and even federal action. Their importance is under-rated. No other law enforcement arm has the same grasp of locality. The sheriffs office is less controlled by higher policies, being locally and directly accountable. Weeding the scum, the best could accomplish more than any para-military action. Alternatives may already exist, rather than extremes. A fool dogmatically writes off any potential resource.

[27] The U.S. Constitution represents the oldest surviving governing framework in the world. The United States is comprised of peoples from every corner of the globe. Immigration has been a continuous factor in its history. The frontier spirit still exists. No other nation has been this flexible.

[28] The United States spans a continent, enjoys a long coastline with many warm weather ports, and its overall climate is moderate. This list could be added and expanded to fill volumes.

[29] The interstate and subsidiary system has no comparison. Russia has ones rail link across Asia. Energy is cheap and plentiful. Many countries import all their oil and minerals. Etc.

[30] Only about 2% of the total populace is considered native.

[31] Also methods employed have advanced in effectiveness.

[32] One of the last true worthwhile political causes is ensuring currently appointed county sheriffs are elected.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Chapter 2

1. On the Abuse of Police Power:

Police are often portrayed as mavericks by the officially sanctioned popular culture. The hero cop routinely bends or even breaks department rules and regulations for the ultimate common good. In reality, the para-militaristic police mentality is an extension of official policy decisions. Certain exceptions exist. However, no governing entity could ever even make the pretense of official control without widespread backing of its police force. Each police unit must actually enforce policy decrees. Police brutality simply mirrors the level existent in the whole system. Apparent distance is a matter of public relations. The developed world operates in this manner. The police are more a limb than the military. What of amputation?

Monday, May 16, 2005


The disappearance of the question denotes the onset of any dark age in thinking. Technology is too often confused with real ideas. Propagandistic semantics must be cast aside for any hope of renaissance. Myopia can be fatal. Coping skills are gradually drained by the technological society. Despite their pretenses, the power elite will be swept off the same cliff with the herd. Their doom is deserved. Some few individuals may deviate from that course by being like a child with adult experience. The remainder will regroup, and begin a new cycle. Regression will need to be consciously avoided. A single viewpoint is too limiting. Accepting the lies mean suicide. One might begin by substituting the calculator with the abacus...

End of Part 1.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


10. Blatant totalitarianism has been discarded in the developed world. Dictatorial governing systems tend not to be self-sustaining once the central figures have died or been eliminated. More advanced and stable systems have accomplished the task, often with a kinder, gentler touch. The Soviet state was the first such successful attempt.[26] After Stalin's death it survived. Its failure was attributable to outside pressure affecting the internal. Stronger competing economic systems improved upon those techniques within their own sphere. Propaganda was tied with market concerns in the mass media. Therefore capitalistic agitation and stabilizing propaganda may be performed more efficiently. Dissent may even be allowed, provided it goes nowhere. Occasional mass movements, such as for civil rights and anti-Vietnam war, may enjoy limited concessions. However, these wane once specific issues have been addressed and co-opted by the system. Hence, the supporters believe their own strength and willingly maintain its mechanisms. Instability is alleviated through these means. Ripples exist, rather than waves. Mass media increasingly moves at a faster pace, thereby reducing the attention span of the decadent. Focus is directed toward the moment, thus erasing past and future. The herd has forgotten all that glitters is not gold. Rebellion has been reduced to a hallow shell, easily exploited and drained. Capitalistic mechanisms have again been used for maximum advantage. Reduction to the status of mere commodities trivializes expressive outlets. Only a chump would believe a rock star preaching anarchy from a limousine. The great marketplace tragedy is created by the lowest common denominator embraced by the herd. Class division may be easily maintained by pitting the haves against the have-nots. Issues become blurred and deflected toward product identification. The money spent could be used for better things, thus blunting social stagnation. Submission defines the pecking order, or the opposite through backlash resentment. Reference points have become malleable. Individual perception becomes confused through these mechanisms, and easily manipulated for opportunistic purposes. The field has been tilled. Almost anything may take root. Clarity may be only a matter of refusing to believe. The herd will not even bother, mollified by comfort and security, to achieve clarity. Brains do not imply wisdom. Penned sheep shit all over each other. Constraints do not need to be accepted. Human cultural evolution will stagnate, unless we believe this system is not the pinnacle of the possible. Efficiency, masqueraded as progress, is simply no substitute for real advancement.

[26] The United States began adopting these characteristics after World War II, although the framework had been laid earlier.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Efficiency is the prime motivator. Maximum gain for smallest expense is demanded by doctrine for highest economic performance and profit. Progress is a strong myth. The circumstance have been exploited for maximum advantage. Checked rural populations, long out of direct reach, are simply an added bonus for the power elite. Those believing conspiracy have been led by the nose. The complex world economic order requires rising to meet demands, not futile or inefficient attempts at controlling events. All else would be waste. This deficiency is attributable to a tendency to personify the unhuman in human terms. Propaganda supplies the image and maintains the trait through repeated usage. Any opportunist may accomplish this task by these procedures. Hence, counter-propaganda is created using the same techniques and readily available avenues. Both convinces the individual of his freedom while binding him with chains. The former must be overcome, thereby loosening the latter. Most will not admit their own stupidity in these matters. Convinced in their minds, conditioned by the myth of the right answer, and believing spoon fed half-truths, these sort restricts their own potential. Very few would admit to their true state. The herd requires self-respect for the best possible grazing animal. A hundred million people declaring bankruptcy would shake the financial world and far beyond. However, most people stay in constant debt because they fear the effect discharge would have upon future credit. The worst possible consequence would be the blessing of never going into debt again. A large mass of capital forfeiture would not be easily absorbed. Clout would be negatively impacted. Hence, people must be convinced otherwise for the sake of efficiency. A hundred million signatures on the proverbial dotted line could bring real freedom from economics, but this will never happen. The herd is weak.

Friday, May 13, 2005


The American West (excluding the coast) and especially Alaska have been affected to a lesser degree; generally concentrated economic strips exist along major transportation routes, or scattered pockets. These massive territories are managed more effectively than any other comparable regions in the world. The late 20th Century shows largely voluntary relocation to large population centers. The alternatives are less appealing to many: low wages including crushing poverty, or the decadent tourist industry, which produce nothing.[24 Real wealth comes from the ground. The benefits largely enrich national and multi-national corporations, while leaving the residents a few crumbs. Once the market reaches a point where smaller concerns are profitable, the bottom drops out.[25] The third world is more easily exploited.

[24] A very small percentage survive off the land, or live outside resorts collecting wages reflecting a high cost of living. Ranching operations might benefit individual families controlling interest in large tracts of land. A few small business owners prosper. Federal programs and subsidies provide a living for many. Third world conditions mostly exist on Indian Reservations (who perhaps wisely might actually like it). However, the dollar amounts are minuscule compared with the grand total.

[25] Examples include gold, silver, and especially oil.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


9. On Centralized Control (strength v. weakness):

Central government control dictates agricultural, timber and mining policy. Consequently, rural populations have been made subordinate, and effectively held in check. Transportation networks have enabled access to even remote regions. Disasters, such as the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, forest fires, and flooding, have required Federal intervention to alleviate rural hardship. Economic measures have often benefited the rural populace while creating dependance on the system. Indeed, price supports and global economic strategy have favored larger operations, thus eliminating self-sufficiency. The small mining, logging or family farm operations have essentially ceased to exist. Rural electrification projects, like the Tennessee Valley Authority, have connected most rural residents to the power grid. The old-style wind vanes have almost completely disappeared from the American landscape. Hence, these people are compelled into the corporate consumer culture by exposure to mass media, such as radio and television. Electric utility sales require the bill be paid with money, rather than traditional barter methods, to power electrical appliances[22] and machinery. Heeding to the demands of efficiency, this situation has produced circumstances where entire regions are owned by a few large corporations, devoted to a single product. Any potential rural uprisings could be quelled by closing transportation hubs and waiting. People would starve from gross nutritional deficiencies in the corn fields of Nebraska (or the banana plantations of Central America). The price of unity: rural Americans have been relegated to a status similar to feudal peasantry.[23]

[22] These must be paid for as well. This requires currency obtainable only through the economic system, thus binding further. Competition with large scale operations require equipment debts. Many small midwestern farms were ruined by this cycle and foreclosed or forced to sell out to big business. Farmers mow are paid low wages to work land owned by their fathers. Resentment should be expected.

[23] Except with a few consumer goods and shiny toys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Society of the Spectacle 114-124



In the course of this complex and terrible evolution which has brought the era of class struggles to a new set of conditions, the proletariat of the industrial countries has lost its ability to assert its own independent perspective. In a fundamental sense, it has also lost its illusions. But it has not lost its being. The proletariat has not been eliminated. It remains irreducibly present within the intensified alienation of modern capitalism. It consists of that vast majority of workers who have lost all power over their lives and who, once they become aware of this, redefine themselves as the proletariat, the force working to negate this society from within. This proletariat is being objectively reinforced by the virtual elimination of the peasantry and by the increasing degree to which the “service” sectors and intellectual professions are being subjected to factorylike working conditions. Subjectively, however, this proletariat is still far removed from any practical class consciousness, and this goes not only for white-collar workers but also for blue-collar workers, who have yet to become aware of any perspective beyond the impotence and mystifications of the old politics. But when the proletariat discovers that its own externalized power contributes to the constant reinforcement of capitalist society, no longer only in the form of its alienated labor but also in the form of the trade unions, political parties, and state powers that it had created in the effort to liberate itself, it also discovers through concrete historical experience that it is the class that must totally oppose all rigidified externalizations and all specializations of power. It bears a revolution that cannot leave anything outside itself, a revolution embodying the permanent domination of the present over the past and a total critique of separation; and it must discover the appropriate forms of action to carry out this revolution. No quantitative amelioration of its impoverishment, no illusory participation in a hierarchized system, can provide a lasting cure for its dissatisfaction, because the proletariat cannot truly recognize itself in any particular wrong it has suffered, nor in the righting of any particular wrong. It cannot recognize itself even in the righting of many such wrongs, but only in the righting of the absolute wrong of being excluded from any real life.


New signs of negation are proliferating in the most economically advanced countries. Although these signs are misunderstood and falsified by the spectacle, they are sufficient proof that a new period has begun. We have already seen the failure of the first proletarian assault against capitalism; now we are witnessing the failure of capitalist abundance. On one hand, anti-union struggles of Western workers are being repressed first of all by the unions; on the other, rebellious youth are raising new protests, protests which are still vague and confused but which clearly imply a rejection of art, of everyday life, and of the old specialized politics. These are two sides of a new spontaneous struggle that is at first taking on a criminal appearance. They foreshadow a second proletarian assault against class society. As the lost children of this as yet immobile army reappear on this battleground — a battleground which has changed and yet remains the same — they are following a new “General Ludd” who, this time, urges them to attack the machinery of permitted consumption.


“The long-sought political form through which the working class could carry out its own economic liberation” has taken on a clear shape in this century, in the form of revolutionary workers councils which assume all decisionmaking and executive powers and which federate with each other by means of delegates who are answerable to their base and revocable at any moment. The councils that have actually emerged have as yet provided no more than a rough hint of their possibilities because they have immediately been opposed and defeated by class society’s various defensive forces, among which their own false consciousness must often be included. As Pannekoek rightly stressed, opting for the power of workers councils “poses problems” rather than providing a solution. But it is precisely within this form of social organization that the problems of proletarian revolution can find their real solution. This is the terrain where the objective preconditions of historical consciousness are brought together — the terrain where active direct communication is realized, marking the end of specialization, hierarchy and separation, and the transformation of existing conditions into “conditions of unity.” In this process proletarian subjects can emerge from their struggle against their contemplative position; their consciousness is equal to the practical organization they have chosen for themselves because this consciousness has become inseparable from coherent intervention in history.


With the power of the councils — a power that must internationally supplant all other forms of power — the proletarian movement becomes its own product. This product is nothing other than the producers themselves, whose goal has become nothing other than their own fulfillment. Only in this way can the spectacle’s negation of life be negated in its turn.


The appearance of workers councils during the first quarter of this century was the most advanced expression of the old proletarian movement, but it went unnoticed, except in travestied forms, because it was repressed and destroyed along with all the rest of the movement. Now, from the vantage point of the new stage of proletarian critique, the councils can be seen in their true light as the only undefeated aspect of a defeated movement. The historical consciousness that recognizes that the councils are the only terrain in which it can thrive can now see that they are no longer at the periphery of a movement that is subsiding, but at the center of a movement that is rising.


A revolutionary organization that exists before the establishment of the power of workers councils must discover its own appropriate form through struggle; but all these historical experiences have already made it clear that it cannot claim to represent the working class. Its task, rather, is to embody a radical separation from the world of separation.


Revolutionary organization is the coherent expression of the theory of praxis entering into two-way communication with practical struggles, in the process of becoming practical theory. Its own practice is to foster the communication and coherence of these struggles. At the revolutionary moment when social separations are dissolved, the organization must dissolve itself as a separate organization.


A revolutionary organization must constitute an integral critique of society, that is, it must make a comprehensive critique of all aspects of alienated social life while refusing to compromise with any form of separate power anywhere in the world. In the organization’s struggle with class society, the combattants themselves are the fundamental weapons: a revolutionary organization must thus see to it that the dominant society’s conditions of separation and hierarchy are not reproduced within itself. It must constantly struggle against its deformation by the ruling spectacle. The only limit to participation in its total democracy is that each of its members must have recognized and appropriated the coherence of the organization’s critique — a coherence that must be demonstrated both in the critical theory as such and in the relation between that theory and practical activity.


As capitalism’s ever-intensifying imposition of alienation at all levels makes it increasingly hard for workers to recognize and name their own impoverishment, putting them in the position of having to reject that impoverishment in its totality or not at all, revolutionary organization has had to learn that it can no longer combat alienation by means of alienated forms of struggle.


Proletarian revolution depends entirely on the condition that, for the first time, theory as understanding of human practice be recognized and lived by the masses. It requires that workers become dialecticians and put their thought into practice. It thus demands of its “people without qualities” more than the bourgeois revolution demanded of the qualified individuals it delegated to carry out its tasks (because the partial ideological consciousness created by a segment of the bourgeois class was based on the economy, that central part of social life in which that class was already in power). The development of class society to the stage of the spectacular organization of nonlife is thus leading the revolutionary project to become visibly what it has always been in essence.


Revolutionary theory is now the enemy of all revolutionary ideology, and it knows it.

Monday, May 09, 2005


8. On Capital:

Money changes hands in return for an actual commodity. Money is no longer representative of any standard. Currency cannot be undermined by world financial markets. Indeed, stateless capital has even appeared.[21] Money has changed its meaning. Rather than based upon gold, money is based upon a combination of factors, broadly termed clout. Perception is a basis for clout. Obviously, sheer national economic strength is the deciding component. The US, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Japan all enjoy relatively stable economies reflected in their respective currencies. These each can erode the others through clout. Lesser parties could accomplish the same by convincing the masses of a devaluation. Indeed, rumors can sometimes negatively impact entire economies. Bank runs, stock and bond markets crashes have been influenced in this manner. Often some will profit at the expense of others. This position could prove an achilles heel, especially where the motivation is not profit. An unforeseen mitigating crisis could bring down the whole house of cards. Of course, this could occur by accident. Credit and its accompanying debt may be the key. The devices of modern accounting may accomplish more than guns or bombs...

Saturday, May 07, 2005


7. On Crackdowns, Cold War and Capitalism:

Crackdowns are ultimately self-defeating by diverting long range interests toward myopic power requirements. The drug war may primarily shoulder the responsibility for the massive U.S. national debt. Even bastard capitalism, practiced in the United States, requires profit for survival. The drug trade will always exist. This money represents an ever increasing unregulated and untaxed economic sector in the multi-billion dollar range. Perhaps, the drug trade is the last true bastion of capitalism -- a natural system prompting survival at the expense of others. Altruism rarely has any place in this scheme not unlike the food chain. However, true capitalism would actually more equitably distribute wealth by ensuring the continual circulation of funds. The drug crackdown, in response to a national health crisis, has come at the expense of the government's own coffers. The remedial solutions employing property confiscation will not make any sizable difference, only inflame passions by allowing tangible symbols for focus. Incarcerated individuals have been put to work, but will prove less economically productive than regular unskilled workers. No incentives exist. The cold war has seen many undiscussed casualties. Society has suffered from the industrial military mentality.[19] The same power structure capable of awesome destruction has been weakest domestically. Fifty years of war produced many unsustainable high-wage jobs. Military equipment must be used or sold for any return. Nuclear weapons are not suitable for either. Once the rationale for these weapons was no longer sustainable, the associated employment opportunities quickly faded. Economic recession followed the downturn. Dissent was certainly voiced, but prosperity rectified much potential damage. Only minor concessions were ever granted.[20] The drug war is just another example of agitation propaganda applied inward. Before the militia movement, the hysteria was focused elsewhere. Ethics is completely lacking in this moral society. Therefore, new co-targets may be added to the list, such as firearms. Prohibition does not work, but its enforcement mechanisms can be redirected. Drugs may become legal and taxed for medical treatment of addiction. The DARE program will say no to something else. Public disapproval is easily induced. Hitler proved similar propaganda tactics work effectively. The myopic power elite have learned from previous examples of their enemies. Decadence has been harnessed to accomplish the task. Those socially isolated will usually react to supplied stimuli, and not know better from lacking relevant experience. Imposed stasis will lead to decay. A great hope: the filth will liquidate themselves.

[19] In fact, President and former Five Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower did warn against the eventuality during his farewell address in 1960, while coining the term "military industrial complex."

[20] Although, mountains can always be made of mole hills. Is true equality defined by equal opportunities to be exploited by capital?

Sunday, May 01, 2005


6. The coming decades will be a time of increasing unrest driven by mainly economic factors. Indicators exist across the social spectrum. Natural instincts have been driven toward the decadent and nihilistic. The young have become disillusioned before their time, making their outlook old and tiresome. Among the desensitized, apathy is resultant and widespread. Energy is channeled toward entertainment, not survival. Self-destruction has taken many forms, and may be accomplished at different rates for the same end result. Many ignore these trends, or dream unworkable solutions that do not tackle real causes. Topical ointment will not heal a wound to the belly. Survival requires sight, preparation and desire. This civilization has largely dulled these instincts in favor of comfort and security. These people will die with the herd. Like the fabled Lemming, the human species may possess instinctual mechanisms to check overpopulation. The big brain requires more stimulus to render the job, than merely marching over cliffs. Of course, the real difficulty may lie in a natural impulse operating in the anti-natural technological world. Suicide should be cleaner...


5. Unity is the bad part of community.