To, With And Of This Unconscionable Now (first letter)

I refuse to cultivate any relationship whatsoever with people of power. I agree with the Zapatistas from Chiapas who want nothing to do with either the state or its masters, the multinational mafias. You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t!  We, the citizens of Life, are joined in an effort to realize our collective promise. Together, we will determine the course of Life for many, many years to come.  Individualism has been the really big thing of our time, and both left and right have been affected by it. It’s this idea that had been growing since the counterculture of the 1960s that really came to fruition in the 1970s—the idea being that what you as an individual feel and desire are the most important things, and that if you followed anyone who told you what to do you were inauthentic. People don’t believe they should give themselves up to the church or trade unions any longer. They want to be themselves.  The melancholy science, from which I make this offering to you my friends, relates to a realm which has counted, since time immemorial, as the authentic one of philosophy, but which has, since its transformation into method, fallen prey to intellectual disrespect, sententious caprice and in the end forgetfulness: the teaching of the good life. What philosophy once called life, has turned into the sphere of the private and then merely of consumption, which is dragged along as an addendum of the material production-process, without autonomy and without its own substance. Whoever wishes to experience the truth of immediate life, must investigate its alienated form, the objective powers, which determine the individual existence into its innermost recesses. At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans people, men and youth who are here, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.  Civilly.
Everybody’s so presumptively negative…  No excuse me.  I did not answer the question.
Great again.
I call for civil disobedience so that local communities can form, coordinate, and begin self-producing natural power, a more natural form of farming, and public services that are finally liberated from the scams of government by the Left or the Right. Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to.  We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done. Every so often, we gather for these Not Sent Letters and an orderly and peaceful transfer of power. And we are grateful to those who have come and gone for their gracious aid throughout previous transitions. They have been magnificent. Thank you.  This is a wonderful shift because it stops us from needing to be told what to do by elites and old hierarchies. It frees us of that and that’s really great — we are, to a great extent, free individuals. The problem with individualism is that, whilst it is liberating and exciting and beautiful, when things get difficult you are very weak. If you go into the woods at night, by yourself, it’s frightening, isn’t it? You get scared by the slightest noise, the slightest snap of a twig. If you go into the woods with your friends in a group, it’s incredibly exciting and thrilling because you somehow feel stronger. It’s as simple as that. That’s one point.  To speak immediately of what is immediate, is to behave no differently from that novelist, who adorns their marionettes with the imitations of the passions of yesteryear like cheap jewelry, and who sets persons in motion, who are nothing other than inventory-pieces of machinery, as if they could still act as subjects, and as if something really depended on their actions. The gaze at life has passed over into ideology, which conceals the fact, that it no longer exists.  We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages.  Tremendous.
I did answer…  No I did not.  My question…
Big league.
On the other hand, I welcome the appeal by Chamoiseau, Glissant, and their friends for the creation of an existence in which the poetry of a life rediscovered will put an end to the deadly stranglehold of the commodity.  Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself.  This Not Sent Letter, has very special meaning, because as it is completed, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring the power of Life and giving it back to you, the people.  There was a shift in the early 1970s in which more and more people looked to art as a way of expressing their radicalism in an individual way. Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids makes this very clear. People like her and Robert Maolethorpe didn’t want to be just a part of radical groups, they wanted to be individuals challenging the system. While that may have dropped away with Mapplethorpe, it remained central to Smith’s belief. But what I’ve been trying to say is that the very idea of self-expression might not have had the radical potential they thought. But the relationship of life and production, which the latter degrades in reality into an ephemeral appearance of the former, is completely absurd. Means and ends are interchanged. The intuition of this ludicrous quid pro quo has not been totally expunged from life. The reduced and degraded essence bristles tenaciously against its ensorcelment in the façade. The change of the relations of production itself depends more than ever on what befalls the “sphere of consumption,” the mere reflection-form of production and the caricature of true life: in the consciousness and unconsciousness of individuals.  We know that we gather on indigenous land and we follow the lead of the first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people.  We especially salute today the Standing Rock Sioux.  Super-classy.
I did not…  Yes I did.
I would first like to clarify that situationism is an ideology that the situationists were unanimous in rejecting. The term “situationist” was ever only a token of identification. Its particularity kept us from being mistaken for the throngs of ideologues.  Stop it and just DO!  For too long, those in control of Life have reaped the rewards of government while people have borne the cost. Their offices flourished, but the people did not share in their wealth. What rescued the economy from the economic crisis of the 1970s was a massive wave of consumer capitalism. And behind it were the forces of finance, because they offered credit to millions of people for the first time. I’ve tried to show how the other essential component in that wave of consumerism was the idea of self-expression. People were encouraged to buy all kinds of stuff, not to be like each other as they had in the past, but instead to express themselves as individuals. In this way the very idea of self-expression became central to the modern structure of power. Only by virtue of opposition to production, as something still not totally encompassed by the social order, could human beings introduce a more humane one. If the appearance of life were ever wholly abrogated, which the consumption-sphere itself defends with such bad reasons, then the overgrowth of absolute production will triumph.  The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of our shared history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand.  Schlonged.
Answer the question of why I would come out for the first time and utter a falsehood?  Why did I do that?  It undermines the credibility everything.  No it doesn’t.
I have nothing in common with the spectacular recuperation of a project that, in my case, has remained revolutionary throughout. My participation in a group that has now disappeared was an important moment in my personal evolution, an evolution I have personally pressed on with in the spirit of the situationist project at its most revolutionary.  From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and your ability; the work you are doing sounds very good: “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful — real nonsense. Do more.  Politicians prospered, but purpose left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of Life. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated there was little to celebrate for struggling families in Life.  We look back at past ages and see how things people deeply believed in at the time were actually a rigid conformity that prevented them from seeing important changes that were happening elsewhere. And I sometimes wonder whether the very idea of self-expression might be the rigid conformity of our age. It might be preventing us from seeing really radical and different ideas that are sitting out on the margins — different ideas about what real freedom is, that have little to do with our present day fetishization of the self. The problem with today’s art is that far from revealing those new ideas to us, it may be actually stopping us from seeing them.  In spite of this, considerations which begin from the subject have as much that is false in them, so much as life becomes appearance. Because the overwhelming objectivity of the contemporary phase of historical movement consists solely of the dissolution of the subject, without a new one appearing in its stead, individual experience necessarily relies on the old subject, the historically condemned one, which is still for itself, but no longer in itself. It thinks of its autonomy as still secure, but the nullity, which the concentration camps demonstrated to subjects, already overtakes the form of subjectivity itself.  We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. We are anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse, our very history is a history of immigration and enslavement.  Hugely.
I shouldn’t be so overly dramatic about it.  I’m saying it’s a falsehood.  But the point remains…  Wait a minute– alternative facts?
Total loser.
My own radicality absolves me from any label. I grew up in an environment in which our fighting spirit was fueled by working class consciousness and a rather festive conception of existence.  More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.”  That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching throughout Life.  This is your day. This is your celebration. And Life is yours.  This might be quite a difficult one to get over, but I think this is really important: however radical your message is as an artist, you are doing it through self-expression—the central dominant ideology of modern capitalism. And by doing that, you’re actually far from questioning the monster and pulling the monster down. You’re feeding the monster. Because the more people come to believe that self-expression is the end of everything, is the ultimate goal, the more the modern system of power becomes stronger, not weaker.  Something sentimental and anachronistic clings to the subjective consideration, no matter how critically sharpened against itself: something of the lament about the way of the world, which is not to be rejected for the sake of its good intentions, but because the lamenting subject threatens to harden in its being-just-so and thereby to fulfill once again the law of the way of the world. The fidelity to one’s own state of consciousness and experience is forever in temptation of falling into infidelity, by denying the insight, which reaches beyond the individuated and which calls the latter’s substance by name.  Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.  Unbelievable.
Alternative facts?  Of the few facts I’ve uttered, the one thing I might’ve got right…  Hey, me, you, us, why?
I found Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life captivating.  I sent him an essay of sorts on “poetry and revolution” that was an attempt to unify radical concepts, Lettrist language, music, and film imagery by crediting them all with the common virtue of making the people’s blood boil.  You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety.  Because what truly matters is not what controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. This day will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of Life again.  I was trying to say that the way to question power is to stand up against it. And to do that, you have to go into the woods at night together. You have to be powerful and confident as a group. And you have to do this thing that I think a lot of modern artists and modern people in general would find very difficult to do: give yourself up to something that is bigger than yourself.  Thus argued Hegel, whose method schooled that of this not sent letter, against the mere being-for-itself of subjectivity on all its levels. Dialectical theory, averse to everything which is singular, cannot permit aphorisms to be valid as such. In the best of cases they may be tolerated, in the words of the Preface of the Phenomenology of Spirit, as “conversation.” The latter’s time however is over. Nevertheless the book does not forget the totality-claim of the system, which does not wish anyone to escape it, any more than the rebellion against the latter. Hegel does not pay heed to the subject in accordance with the requirement, which he otherwise passionately defends: that of being in the matter and not “always beyond it,” instead of “entering into the immanent content of the matter.”  No human being is illegal.  Terrific.
Some facts I uttered were just not true.  Look, alternative facts are not facts.  They’re falsehoods.
Lefebvre kindly responded by putting me in touch with Guy Debord who immediately invited me to Paris. The two of us had very different temperaments, but we would agree over a period of nearly ten years on the need to bring consumer society to an end and to found a new society on the principle of self-management, where life supersedes survival and the existential angst that it generates.  And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistent approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.”  The forgotten men and women of Life will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.  There are other forgotten ideas of freedom. For instance, the religious idea of freedom—I think the phrase is “in His service is perfect freedom.” An example I always give is from the civil rights movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s in America. A lot of young white activists in the middle classes went down to the South, joined with the young black activists, and for years worked anonymously, giving themselves up to what they believed in. Many of them were beaten up, some of them were killed, but they actually changed the world and they did it by giving themselves up to something.  If the subject is disappearing today, aphorisms take on the weighty responsibility of “considering that which is disappearing itself as essential.” They insist, in opposition to Hegel’s procedure and nevertheless in concordance with his thought, on negativity: “The life of the Spirit wins its truth only by finding itself in what is absolutely torn apart. It is not this power as the positive, which looks away from the negative, as when we say of something, that it is nothing or wrong, and now, done with that, pass over from there to something else; rather it is this power only when it stares the negative in the face, tarrying on it.”  The struggle to save the planet, to stop climate change, to guarantee the accessibility of water from the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, to Flint, Michigan, to the West Bank and Gaza. The struggle to save our flora and fauna, to save the air – this is ground zero of the struggle for social justice.  Great.
Do I think it’s a fact or not that millions of people have lost their plans or health insurance and their doctors?  Do I think it’s a fact that millions of women, as I stand here today, are in poverty along with their kids?  Do I think it’s a fact that millions don’t have health care?
The radicality, which, notwithstanding some lapses, never ceased to motivate us, remains a source of inspiration to this day. Its effects are just beginning to manifest themselves in the autonomous groups that are now coming to grips with the collapse of financial capitalism.  You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!  At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good sense of meaning for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public. But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.  I’m sorry I’m being rude here, but at this point radical art involves going off on one demonstration, or doing an installation that says something angry, and then going home. And that’s it. You’ve felt you’ve expressed yourself, but if you do want to change the world you have to give yourself up to it.  The dismissive gesture, with which Hegel in contradiction to his own insight, constantly runs roughshod over the individual, derives paradoxically enough from his necessary bias for liberalistic thought. The conception of a totality harmonious throughout all its antagonisms compels him to rank individuation, however many times he designates it as the driving moment of the process, as something lesser in the construction of the whole. That in prehistory the objective tendency asserts itself over the heads of human beings, indeed by virtue of the annihilation of the individual, without the reconciliation implied by the concept of the generality and the particular ever being historically achieved, this is distorted in Hegel: with lofty iciness he opts once more for the liquidation of the particular. Nowhere does he doubt the primacy of the whole.  This is also a women’s march and this women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. An inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to antisemitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.  Huge.
Do I think it’s a fact that we spent billions of dollars on education in the last eight years only to have millions of kids still stuck in schools that fail them every single day?  These are the facts that I want to cover.  I…  This is why I’m here…
By its very style of living and thinking, our group was already sketching out a situation, like a beachhead active within enemy territory. The military metaphor is questionable, but it does convey our will to liberate daily life from the control and stranglehold of an economy based on the profitable exploitation of man.  I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT.  Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories, scattered like tombstones across the landscape of Life, an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.  Three million people marched through London against the Iraq invasion in 2003. It was a really impressive march. And they had this slogan that I thought was very much of its time: “Not in my name.” That is the ultimate individual protest. So what then happened is they all went home feeling that they had all protested against the war and it was no longer their war, and then they did nothing else.  They really did nothing else. And as a result, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and American and British soldiers were killed. For what? You could have stopped it, but to do it you would have had to have given up the next three years of your life, to marching every day, to working against it, to try and change the mood. You’d have had to give yourself up to it. That doesn’t fit with the idea of the self, or of self-expression.  The more dubious the transition from the reflecting singularization to the glorified totality remains, as much in history as in Hegelian logic, the more enthusiastically philosophy clings, as justification of the existent, to the victorious motorcade of the objective tendency. The development of the social principle of individuation into the victory of fatality already gives it occasion enough.  Yes, we salute the fight for 15 dollars an hour. We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance.  Disaster.
I understand this.  I have not answered the question.  I don’t think that anybody can prove anything.  And I don’t understand why I did it.
We formed a “group-at-risk” that was conscious of the hostility of the dominant world, of the need for radical rupture, and of the danger of giving in to the paranoia typical of minds under siege. By showing its limits and its weaknesses, the situationist experience can also be seen as a critical meditation on the new type of society sketched out by the Paris Commune, by the Makhnovist movement and the Republic of Councils wiped out by Lenin and Trotsky, by the libertarian communities in Spain later smashed by the Communist Party.  From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and your ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense.  And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed Life of so much unrealized potential. This carnage stops right here and stops right now.  That’s a very concise and clear division. Art can be completely obscure. Even I sometimes don’t understand it at all, as if it’s deliberately hard to understand. And yes, the other type is a sort of benign, soft art. The real issue for art at the moment is that not only has it not changed the world for better, it may partially be responsible for the counterreaction from Trump supporters. The elitist, obscure, rather smug art that we’ve had over the last five or six years is part of the sort of metropolitan stubbornness that Brexit reacted against, and that the Trump voters reacted against.   Since Hegel hypostatizes bourgeois society as much as its founding category, the individuated, he could not truly carry out the dialectic between the two. Admittedly, he assures us, with classical economics, that the totality produces and reproduces itself out of the interrelation of the antagonistic interests of its members. But he naively regards the individuated as such solely as that which is irreducibly given, which he just dismantled in his theory of cognition. In the individualistic society however the generality is realized not only through the interplay of individuals, rather the society is essentially the substance of the individuated.  Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers.  Lightweight.
I know data well.  I don’t think I can prove numbers one way or the other.  There’s no way to really quantify.  We all know that.  I can laugh at me all I want.  I’m not laughing.  I’m just…
The situationist project is not about what happens once consumer society is rejected and a genuinely human society has emerged. Rather, it illuminates now how lifestyle can supersede survival, predatory behavior, power, trade and the death-reflex.  Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense.  We are one Life, and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.  I’m not criticizing the actual art that many people produce. Some of it is very good, and beautiful, and moving. It’s just that the way in which it’s done, through self-expression, tends to actually have a much deeper effect on society than what the artist necessarily intended.  That is why social analysis can garner incomparably more from individual experience than Hegel conceded, while conversely the great historical categories, after all that has been perpetrated with them in the meantime, are no longer above suspicion of fraud. In the one hundred and fifty years which have passed since Hegel’s conception, something of the force of protest has passed over again into the individuated. Compared with the paterfamilial scantiness, which characterizes its treatment in Hegel, it has won as much richness, differentiation and energy as it has, on the other hand, been weakened and hollowed out by the socialization of society.  Resistance to the healthcare privateers.  Classy.
Listen…  This is not about us.  That is going to be a question I have.  Excuse me.
I am simply the spokesman, among others, of a radical consciousness. I just do what I can to see that resistance to market exploitation is transformed into an offensive of life, and that an art of living sweeps away the ruins of oppression.  Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.”  This Not Sent Letter is an oath of allegiance to all Life. What I’m really questioning is whether the function of art is to change the world, or whether its function is really to express what is happening in the world in a really clear way. Ever since the 1960s there has been this idea that the function of art is to change the world, and it will do so by changing the way people think and see. Whereas I think, if you look at the history of art, really brilliant art steps back and shows to you clearly what really is going on in the world you live in, in a vivid, imaginative way.  In the epoch of its disassembly, the experience of the individuated as well as what it encounters contributes once more to a recognition, which it had concealed, so long as it was construed seamlessly and positively as the ruling category. In view of the totalitarian unison, which broadcasts the elimination of difference as immediately meaningful, a measure of emancipatory social power may have temporarily withdrawn into the sphere of the individual. That critical theory tarries in it, is not only due to a bad conscience. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants.  Big League.
Can I — can I ask myself to…  Can I ask myself what the lies are all about?  I hear them, like, like a repeat.  It was this awful sequel, as awful as the original.  I’ve just litigated all this.
Following the occupation movements of May 1968, we knew that some recuperation was afoot. We were familiar with the mechanisms of alienation that would falsify our ideas and fit them neatly into the cultural puzzle. It became clear to us, during the last conference in Venice, that we had failed to shatter those mechanisms, that in fact they were shattering us from the inside.  It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible.  For many decades, we have enriched industry at the expense of Life, subsidized armies while allowing for the very sad depletion of Life.  The astonishing thing after Brexit—and I think probably you’re seeing it now after the election of Trump—is that all the metropolitan hipsters looked around at each other and went, “Fuck, where did those people come from?” They didn’t even know the Trump supporters and Brexit supporters existed, because they were so in their little bubble they just couldn’t see them. What then happened is that they started blaming those people, which I thought was pretty bad. You’d hear in bars, “God, the really stupid people are in control now.” And I just wanted to say, “No, hang on, you’re stupid: you lost the election.” Instead of trying to blame people for voting, they should go out and find out what is really going on, bring it forward, and try and show why people voted like that. And to do that you have to identify where real power is in our societies.   All this is not to deny what is debatable in such an attempt. I wrote this not sent letter for the most part during the ongoing war, under conditions of contemplation. The violence which drove me into exile simultaneously blocked me from its full recognition.  Resistance to attacks on disabled people.  Super-classy.
I want to go back to a question I continue to deflect.  Why was it necessary to utter a provable falsehood that now calls into question everything?  No it doesn’t.  It will.  No it doesn’t.
The group was crumbling, the Venice conference was demonstrating its increasing uselessness, and the only answers put forward were commensurate with the self-parody we had fallen into. Dissension intensified to the point of paranoid denunciation: of betrayals of radicality, of breaches of revolutionary spirit, of dereliction of conscience.  I hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did.  We have defended borders while refusing to defend Life, and spent trillions and trillions of dollars elsewhere while the infrastructure of Life has fallen into disrepair and decay.  The current system of power is fundamentally pretty invisible to us. It resides in finance, in all sorts of new kinds of management, and within computers and the media, which involves invisible algorithms that shape and manage what information we get. I think one of the most beautiful things artists and journalists can do at this moment in time is to be sympathetic and understanding to the people who voted for Brexit and Trump, and then bring to the fore the invisible power structures that those people feel completely distanced from so that they know where power is. And do it in such a way that isn’t obscure so people like me don’t have to read it three times just to understand it. Do it in a way that really grabs ordinary people’s imaginations.  At one time I’d not yet admitted to myself the complicity of those who, as if in a magic circle, speak at all of what is individual, in view of the unspeakable things which collectively occurred.  Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison-industrial complex.  Overrated.
I want everyone to hear that.  I want them to hear that I’m not answering my questions, which I’m doing.  I want them to hear that they can’t trust me.  What is the motive then?
Those times of catharsis and anathema are now long past, and it might be useful to examine how it is that we sowed the seeds of failure for which the group ended up paying such a heavy price. The shipwreck, however, did not indiscriminately sweep away to the shores of oblivion all of us who participated in the adventure.  You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool.  Make your own, your own world.  We’ve made some rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of Life has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the countless others in Life left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across a dying world.  I’m a journalist who steals a lot from art. But to be honest, I don’t see much difference between the two, because the function of art and the function of journalism is to go out and explain the world to people, and do it in ways that make it vivid and imaginative.  This work starts out from the narrowest private realm, that of the intellectual in emigration. After this follow considerations of wider social and anthropological scope; they pertain to psychology, aesthetics, and science in its relationship to the subject.  Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.  Amazing.
Respectfully, my job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by me.  That’s not my job.  I’m not an opinion columnist.
The group vanished in such a way as to allow the individuals to either consolidate their radicality, disown it, or lapse into the imposture of radicalism.  If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistent approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.”  But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern Life. From this day forward, it’s going to be only Life.  Life first.  I believe you can be clever whilst also being very clear and imaginative for ordinary people. You can do it by being funny sometimes, by using music that people like, and by writing very simply and very clearly. But you can’t make ordinary people out to be chumps—I come from a working class community, and I know they’re really clever. They may feel completely isolated and fed up and pissed off, but they’re not stupid. They’re angry, and they were given a giant, big button that said “Fuck off” on it, and they pressed it. And I think the same thing happened in the Midwest. They didn’t believe Trump’s stories, they were just given this button—and they pressed it.  The concluding aphorisms here lead thematically, too, to philosophy, without claiming to be conclusive and definitive: all of these are intended to mark points of attack or to generate models for future exertions of the concept.  Women’s rights are human rights all over the planet and that is why we say freedom and justice for Palestine.  Disaster.
Can I please answer the question?  Why did I do this?  I have not answered it.
Survival is budgeted life. The system of exploitation of nature and man, starting in the Middle Neolithic with intensive farming, caused an involution in which creativity—a quality specific to humans—was supplanted by work, by the production of a covetous power.  You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!  Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit Life. We must protect our Life from the ravages of making products, companies, and jobs.  Now, the thing you can do is the kind of journalism that both explains things but also grabs attention. I think great art can do that. You know, great novels have done that in the past—they made worlds vivid for you. I think artists have retreated over the last 10 to 15 years into either those obscure bubbles that you described or into money, basically. And they pretend radicalism, just as much as I think the Occupy movement was only cartoon radicalism. None of it will actually go out and engage with the world—it’s a retreat. And I think I can be rude about artists because I’m being rude about my own profession, journalism, as well. Because I think the exact same thing applies to journalists, too. This not sent letter transpired in a phase of my time in which, due to external circumstances, we had to interrupt our common work. It wishes to proffer thanks and fidelity, by refusing to recognize the interruption.  We celebrate the impending release of Chelsea Manning. And Oscar López Rivera.  Big time.
I’ll answer.  It’s only one question.  I’ll answer it this way.
Great again.
Creative life, as had begun to unfold during the Paleolithic, declined and gave way to a brutish struggle for subsistence. From then on, predation, which defines animal behavior, became the generator of all economic mechanisms.  I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good.  Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.  I will fight for you with every breath in my body. And I will never ever let you down.  I think what’s waiting to be invented is a new kind of imaginative language that describes the world of power, which is invisible to us, and I think both journalists and art can do this, because the present languages are just so boring and so obscure and so dull that people turn away from them.  This not sent letter is a testimony to a dialogue interiéur: there is no motif herein, which does not belong as much to your or I as to the person who found the time for formulation in any given instance.  But we also say free Leonard Peltier.  Schlonged.
Think about what I just said.  That’s why I feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there.  So it’s a political tactic?
We are witnessing the collapse of financial capitalism. This was easily predictable. Even among economists, where one finds even more idiots than in the political sphere, a number had been sounding the alarm for a decade or so.  Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT.  Life will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our real purpose. We will bring back our real borders. We will bring back our true wealth. And we will bring back our dreams. We will build new connections across this wonderful Life.  We will get our people off of welfare and back to Life.  I come from a progressive populist tradition, and I believe that, somewhere in the late 19th century, art became much more democratic. People started to read novels, people started to like films, and what those things did is take people out of their world and gave them other worlds and transformed their imaginations, giving them bigger horizons. I believe that you can grab the imaginations of people. The specific approach of this not sent letter, the attempt to represent moments of a common philosophy from the standpoint of subjective experience, means that the fragments which constitute it do not entirely measure up to the philosophy, of which they are nevertheless a part. This is expressed as what is loose and nonbinding in the form, along with the renunciation of an explicit theoretical context.  Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Lightweight.
It’s a political tactic to come up with alternative facts and try to set up reality as my enemy?  No I didn’t say that at all and that’s not why I’m here.
Our situation is paradoxical: never before have the forces of repression been so weakened, yet never have the exploited masses been so passive. Still, insurrectional consciousness always sleeps with one eye open.  And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop.  We will follow two simple rules: live Life and give Life. On the other hand, though, what many have said is probably closer to the reality of our time. They argue that, given contemporary art’s close relationship to the rich, then maybe artists should be trying to tell the rich about what was really happening in the rest of society. In that way the wealthy might be radicalized.  The critique of the tendencies of contemporary society is automatically countered, before it is fully expressed, by saying that things have ever been so. The excitement thereby so promptly abjured, testifies merely to the lack of insight into the invariance of history – to an unreason, which proudly diagnoses everyone as hysterical. Moreover, the critic’s attacks are said to be merely hamming it up for the gallery, a means of claiming special privileges, while whatever they are nonetheless upset about is well known and trivial, so that no-one can be expected to waste their attention on such. The evidence of the calamity comes to benefit its apologists: because everyone knows everything, no-one is supposed to say anything, and it may then continue unchallenged, hidden by silence.  Free Assata Shakur.  Terrific.
I’m here because of all the provable, quantifiable facts, because of the devastation and destruction.  All I’m looking for is approval rating.
The arrogance, incompetence, and powerlessness of the governing classes will eventually rouse it from its slumber, as will the progression in hearts and minds of what was most radical about May 1968.  Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!  We will seek friendship and goodwill, but we do so with the understanding we put Life first. We do not seek to impose our understanding of Life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and reform the world against terrorism, which we will remove from Life.  Artists have been financed by those in power and their work tends to reflect and express the views of those in power, and the clever artists are the ones who play with that and subvert it, so that hopefully then those in power will look at the world in a better way.  What is affirmed is what philosophies of all political stripes have trumpeted into the heads of human beings: that whatever has the persistent gravity of existence on its side, is thereby right. One need only be dissatisfied to be already suspected of being a global dreamer [Weltverbesserer]. The consensus employs the trick of ascribing to opponents a reactionary thesis of decay, which is untenable – for is not horror in fact perennial? – by discrediting the concrete insight into the negative through its alleged failure of thought, and those who rise up against the shadow, are maligned as agents of the shadow. But even if things were ever so, although nonetheless neither Timur nor Genghis Khan nor the British colonial administration of India deliberately burst the lungs of millions of human beings with poison gas, then the eternity of horror is revealed by the fact that each of its new forms outbids the older ones.  Over the next months and years we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations.  Overrated.
All I’m looking for is an answer to a simple question.  I never answered why — about the motivation of what was necessary about doing what I did.
Total loser.
Even if we are today seeing recycled ideologies and old religious infirmities being patched up in a hurry and tossed out to feed a general despair, which our ruling wheelers and dealers cash in on, they cannot conceal for long the shift in civilization revealed by May 1968. The break with patriarchal values is final.  Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know.  At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to Life and through our loyalty to it, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to Life, there is no room for prejudice.  We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.  But there is something else the artists can also do in that position. They can tell us, the people, about the wealthy. They can show us the rich, elite world in a powerful and dramatic way, and let us see it more clearly and thus make up our minds about it. This is something art has done in the past. Look at the paintings of the Gilded Age and the robber barons in America, and the novels of people like Frank Norris in the early part of the 20th century.  What endures is no invariant quantum of suffering, but of its progress towards hell: that is the meaning of the talk about the growth of antagonisms. Any other kind would be innocuous and would pass over into mediating phrases, the renunciation of the qualitative leap. Those who register the death-camps as a minor accident in the victory procession of civilization, the martyrdom of the Jews as world-historically insignificant, do not merely fall behind the dialectical insight, but invert the meaning of one’s own politics: of stopping the extremity.  Those who still defend the supremacy of white male hetero-patriarchy had better watch out.  Unbelievable.
Tell me why I just referred to us as ridiculous.  Tell me why.  I think the debate is ridiculous.
We are moving toward the end of the exploitation of nature, of work, of trade, of predation, of separation from the self, of sacrifice, of guilt, of the forsaking of happiness, of the fetishizing of money, of power, of hierarchy, of contempt for and fear of women, of the misleading of children, of intellectual dominion, of military and police despotism, of religions, of ideologies, of repression and the deadly resolutions of psychic tensions.  It would be better if you had the confidence just to your stuff and not even think about it.  When Life is united, Life is totally unstoppable.  The problem with today’s world of billionaires and plutocrats is that, unlike practically all past elites in the West, they don’t flaunt their wealth. In fact, they tend to hide it away: they dress down, and although they live in luxury they tend to be reticent about the great public displays that you see in Zola. But far from offering us insights into this hidden world of wealth and power, modern art tends to just sell these people stuff, which, even if it’s radical in its message, fails to show us that world clearly.  Quantity recoils into quality, not only in the development of the productive forces, but also in the increase of the pressure of domination. If the Jews are exterminated as a group, while the society continues to reproduce the life of workers, then the comment that these former are bourgeois and their destiny unimportant to the larger dynamic, turns into economic spleen, even insofar as mass murder is in fact explicable by the decline of the profit-rate. The horror consists of the fact that it always remains the same – the continuation of “prehistory” – but unremittingly realizes itself as something different, something unforeseen, overwhelming all expectations, the faithful shadow of the developing productive forces. The same duality applies to violence, which the critique of political economy pointed out in material production: “There are determinations common to all stages of production, which are generally fixed by thought, but the so-called universal conditions of all production are nothing but… abstract moments, by which no real stage of production can be understood.”  In other words, to abstract out what is historically unchanged is not neutral towards the matter, by virtue of its scientific objectivity, but serves, even where it is on target, as a fog in which what is tangible and assailable disappear. This latter is precisely what the apologists do not wish to concede. On the one hand they are obsessed by the dernière nouveauté and on the other hand they deny the infernal machine, which is history.  The future will be resistance: resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.  Weak.
I mean, we can’t have this kind of relationship.  I completely agree. But…  Well…
This is not a fact I am describing, but an ongoing process that simply requires from us increased vigilance, awareness, and solidarity with life. We have to reground ourselves in order to rebuild—on human foundations—a world that has been ruined by the inhumanity of the cult of the commodity.  Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego?  There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of Life. And most importantly, we will be protected by Life itself.  In this way, I would argue that art helps perpetuate the disguise and the secrecy of modern power. I do think one of radical art’s main aims should be to show us how power works, to pull it forward so you can see it—and I think in this age of extreme plutocracy it is rather failing to do that.  One cannot bring Auschwitz into analogy with the destruction of the Greek city-states in terms of a mere gradual increase of horror, regarding which one preserves one’s peace of mind. Certainly, the martyrdom and degradation suffered by those in the cattle-cars, completely without precedent, casts a harsh, deathly light on the most distant past, in whose obtuse and unplanned violence the scientifically organized kind was already teleologically at work. The identity lies in the non-identity, in what has not yet been, which denounces what has been.  This is just the beginning and in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker: ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’  Horrible.
I’m sitting here trying to answer basic questions.  I’m trying to attack myself with…  I’m not attacking myself.
The agrarian economy of the Ancien Régime was a fossilized form that was shattered by the emerging free-trade economy, from the 1789 revolution on. Similarly, the stock-dabbling speculative capitalism whose debacle we now witness is about to give way to a capitalism reenergized by the production of non-polluting natural power, the return to use value, organic farming, a hastily patched-up public sector, and a hypocritical moralization of trade.  I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty your mind and concentrate on what you are doing.  Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In Life, we understand existence as striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over.  What I said to you early on was that the rise of individualism has all sorts of liberating aspects to it, one of which was feminism. This is partly the reason why I chose New York in 1975 as a place to begin the story I tell in the film, because at that point many of the radical left shifted away from revolutionary attacks on the state to the idea of liberating individuals from social and cultural inequalities via feminism and the gay rights movement. And I agree that a fantastically successful movement came out of that and liberated the lives of millions of people. That’s really good. You could argue that that’s what the left has been most successful at—changing how individuals behave towards each other.  The statement that it’s always been the same, is untrue in its immediacy, true only through the dynamic of the totality. Whoever allows the cognition of the increase of horror to escape them, does not merely fall prey to cold-hearted contemplation, but fails to recognize, along with the specific difference of what is newest from what has gone before, simultaneously the true identity of the whole, of horror without end.  We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance.  Great again.
I attacked myself as ridiculous.  Look, I’m going to have to leave it there.  I have another interview to go to.
The future belongs to self-managed communities that produce indispensable goods and services for all (natural power, biodiversity, education, health centers, transport, metal and textile production . . .). The idea is to produce for us, for our own use—that is to say, no longer in order to sell them—goods that we are currently forced to buy at market prices even though they were conceived and manufactured by workers.  After you do something it is done and that’s that.  Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of Life. We will not fail. Life will thrive and prosper again. We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free Life from the miseries of disease and harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.  The point I was making was that there was an unforeseen consequence to the left’s choosing to shift their focus to individual rights. It allowed a massive shift of power—to finance and the banks—to go largely unexamined and unopposed. Out of that shift of power came the extraordinary right-wing economic revolution that we now live with, and which dominates all our lives.  The penchant for the occult is a symptom of the regression of consciousness. It has lost the energy to think what is unconditional and to withstand the conditional. Instead of determining both, in unity and difference, in the labor of the concept, it heedlessly mixes them up. What is unconditional turns into a fact, what is conditional becomes immediately essential.  Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers.  Haters.
I have the rest of the show to go to.  I appreciate coming on to share my views.
It is time to break with the laws of a political racketeering that is designing, together with its own bankruptcy, that of our existence.  After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that.  A new pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights, and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of Life. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms.  And we all salute the same great force.  What I was trying to suggest was that by focusing on the rights of individuals—and the groups of which they are a part—the radicals possibly lost sight of something: that the only way to really challenge deeply entrenched power is through mass collective action, not through a radicalism that is rooted in individualism.  Monotheism crumbles into a second mythology. “I believe in astrology, because I don’t believe in God,” responded an interviewee in an American social psychological study. The juridically-minded reason, which raised itself to the concept of a god, seems to be caught up in the latter’s fall. The Spirit dissociates itself into spirits and thereby forfeits the capacity to recognize, that the latter no longer exist.  Resistance to the healthcare privateers.  Terrific.
Everybody’s so presumptively negative…  No excuse me.  I did not answer the question.
We are at war, yes, but this is not an economic war. It is a world war against the economy. Against the economy that for thousands of years has been based on the exploitation of nature and man. And against a patched-up capitalism that will try to save its skin by investing in natural power and making us pay the high price for that which—once the new means of production are created—will be free as the wind, the sun, and the energy of plants and soil.  You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself.  And whether a child is born in urban sprawl or wind-swept plains, they look at the same night sky. They fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of Life.  In simple terms, what I think is this: Trump made all sorts of promises, some of which—as I point out in the film)—are quite left-wing, like, for example, bringing jobs back to America. To do this he will have to challenge deeply entrenched systems of power, global power—like finance, which is based on the fact of having exported labor for cheap stuff overseas. I think he will find that very difficult. If he does, then what will happen is that those systems of power—that at the moment are very invisible to us—will come more in focus because of his failure. We’ll be able to see them. And as a result, you might get the left regenerating and beginning to realize what it’s got to challenge.  The veiled tendency of calamity of society cons its victims in the false revelation, in the hallucinatory phenomenon. They hope, in vain, that its fragmentary obviousness will enable them to look at the total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks out once again after millennia of enlightenment on a humanity, whose domination over nature as domination over human beings surpasses in horror whatever human beings had to fear from nature.  Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants.  Weak.
I did answer…  No I did not.  My question…
If we do not exit economic reality and create a human reality in its place, we will once again allow market barbarism to live on.  Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t.  So to all, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: you will never be ignored again.  This is complete supposition and hypothesis, but if Trump finds it very difficult to do what he does, then where power has gone will become much more obvious. And that will have a very good effect, both on the left and the right, and you might get a return of real struggles for power, and real politics, rather than the cartoon radicalism that you have on the left at the moment. I think that’ll be really good—that’s my optimistic view.  The gaze of the mariner at the Dioscuri, the animism of trees and streams, in all the delusory bedazzlement at what is inexplicable, were appropriate to the historical experiences of the subject vis-à-vis its action-objects. As a rationally utilized reaction towards the rationalized society, however, in which the booths and consultation rooms of the spirit-seers of all grades, the reborn animism denies the alienation to which it testifies and on which it lives, and surrogates a nonexistent experience.  Resistance to attacks on disabled people.  Civilly.
I did not…  Yes I did.
The moralization of profit is an illusion and a fraud. There must be a decisive break with an economic system that has consistently spread ruin and destruction while pretending, amidst constant destitution, to deliver a most hypothetical well-being.  You also must believe in your ability. I think you do.  Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define Life’s destiny. And your courage, goodness, and love will forever guide us along the way. My other view is that Trump will fail and things will snap back to exactly where they are now and you’ll be left with a sort of traditional right-wing government in America, and in Britain, and everything will be hypernormalized again. But those, I think, are the two options. I don’t think Trump is going to suddenly turn into a strange cross between Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. I don’t think he’s got the power to do that at the moment.  The occultist draws the most extreme conclusion from the fetish-character of the commodity: threateningly objectified labor springs at them from objects in the guise of countless demons. What is forgotten in a world which has turned into products, its producedness by human beings, is recalled in divided, inverted form, as something existing in itself which is added to and equated with the in-themselves of objects. Because these latter have frozen under the light of reason, losing the appearance [Schein] of being animated, that which animates them, its social quality, makes itself something naturally-supernaturally independent, a thing among things.  Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison-industrial complex.  Unbelievable.
Answer the question of why I would come out for the first time and utter a falsehood?  Why did I do that?  It undermines all credibility.  No it doesn’t.
Human relations must supersede and cancel out commercial relations. Civil disobedience means disregarding the decisions of a government that embezzles from its citizens to support the embezzlements of financial capitalism. Why pay taxes to the bankster-state, taxes vainly used to try to plug the sinkhole of corruption, when we could allocate them instead to the self-management of free power networks in every local community?  So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself.  Together, we will make Life strong again. We will make Life wealthy again. We will make Life proud again. We will make Life safe again.  What I thought was really interesting, in America, was that it was Wisconsin that got Trump voted in. There’s a very strong progressive tradition in Wisconsin, and that sort of distrust in elites can swing to the left or right. There’s no reason why, in my country and your country, the liberals and the left can’t get hold of those people that are pissed off at the moment. It’s just they’re so lazy, so locked off in their own bubbles, that they can’t. The regression to magical thinking under late capitalism assimilates thought to late-capitalist forms. The dubious-asocial marginal phenomena of the system, the ramshackle institutions which squint through the cracks in its walls, indeed reveal nothing of what would be outside, but manifest the energies of disassembly in the interior that much more. The small-time sages, who terrorize their clients in front of a crystal ball, are toy models of the big-time ones, who hold the destiny of humanity in their hands. The obscurantists behind “Psychic Research” are as quarrelsome and conspiratorial as society itself.  Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.  Terrific.
I shouldn’t be so overly dramatic about it.  I’m saying it’s a falsehood.  But the point remains…  Wait a minute– alternative facts?
The direct democracy of self-managed councils has every right to ignore the decrees of corrupt parliamentary democracy. Civil disobedience towards a state that is plundering us is a right. It is up to us to capitalize on this epochal shift to create communities where desire for life overwhelms the tyranny of money and power. We need concern ourselves neither with government debt, which covers up a massive defrauding of the public interest, nor with that contrivance of profit they call “growth.”  You have at your power the ability to do anything.  And yes, together, we will make Life great again.  What we’ve got to recapture, somehow, is the idea—and this is the real key thing for politics in the future—of allowing people to feel that they are individuals, with rights, and that they desire to do what they want to do, but also feel that they can give themselves up to something bigger. Squaring that circle is going to be the future of politics on the left. Someone’s got to a find a way of doing it.  The hypnosis exerted by occult things resembles totalitarian terror: in contemporary processes, both converge with each other. The smile of the augury has overgrown itself into the scornful laughter of society; it feeds on the immediate material exploitation of souls. The horoscope corresponds to the directives of bureaus on nationalities, and number-mysticism is preparation for administrative statistics and cartel prices. Integration proves in the end to be the ideology of the disintegration into power-groups, which exterminate each other. Whoever casts their lot with them, is lost.  The future will be resistance: resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.  Lightweight.
Alternative facts?  Of the few facts I uttered, the one thing I might’ve got right…  Hey, me, you, us, why?
(integrating modified passages from the writing and/or transcribed speech of Raoul Vaneigem, Sol LeWitt, Donald Trump, Adam Curtis, Theodor Adorno, Angela Davis, Chuck Todd and Kellyanne Conway)