The Coming Insurrection

I’m probably on someone’s watchlist already because of all the radical feminist/socialist books I’ve been reading, so I might as well confess to reading this, a book used as the primary piece of evidence in a 2009 French anti-terrorism case. The book takes as fact that we’re already knee-deep in a shitstorm of crisis (“Everyone agrees. It’s about to explode.”) and provides suggestions on what next. Primarily, shake off society’s drumbeat of mobility (upward or otherwise, always so busy busy busy), start to connect with people one-on-one, dialog about real things, form communes, be negative-growth focused and self-sufficient. I feel a tad ignorant about all the insurrections referred to in the book, in France during the 2005-2009 period, need to do some digging (traditional media can’t be relied on to spread the word). The pendulum swing to hyper-individualism (and its requisite consumption) only benefits the corporations who profit from alienating us from one another.

As the welfare state collapses, we see the emergence of a brute conflict between those who desire order and those who don’t. Everything that French politics has been able to deactivate is in the process of unleashing itself. It will never be able to process all that it has repressed. In the advanced degree of social decomposition, we can count on the coming movement to find the necessary breath of nihilism. p12

Two centuries of capitalism and market nihilism have brought us to the most extreme alienations – from ourselves, from others, from worlds. The fiction of the individual has decomposed at the same speed that it was becoming real. Children of the metropolis, we offer this wager: that it’s in the most profound deprivation of existence, perpetually stifled, perpetually conjured away, that the possibility of communism resides. p16

This injunction, everywhere, to “be someone” maintains the pathological state that makes this society necessary. The injunction to be strong produces the very weakness by which it maintains itself, so that everything seems to take on a therapeutic character, even working, even love. All those “How’s it goings?” that we exchange give the impression of a society composed of patients taking each other’s temperature. Sociability is now made up of a thousand little refuges where you can take shelter. Where it’s always better than the bitter cold outside. Where everything’s false, since it’s all just a pretext for getting warmed up. Where nothing can happen since we’re all too busy shivering silently together. Soon this society will only be held together by the mere tension of all the social atoms straining towards an illusory cure. It’s a power plant that runs its turbines on a gigantic reservoir of unwept tears, always on the verge of spilling over. p30

There is only one alternative to the coming apocalypse: reduce growth. Consume and produce less. Become joyously frugal. Eat organic, ride your bike, stop smoking, and pay close attention to the products you buy. Be content with what’s strictly necessary. Voluntary simplicity… “When an individual is frugal, property serves its function perfectly, which is to allow the individual to enjoy her own life sheltered from public existence, in the private sanctuary of her life.” p69

Whoever knew the penniless joy of these New Orleans neighborhoods before the catastrophe, their defiance towards the state and the widespread practices of making do with what’s available wouldn’t be at all surprised by what became possible there. On the other hand, anyone trapped in the anemic and atomized everyday routine of our residential deserts might doubt that such determination could be found anywhere anymore. Reconnecting with such gestures, buried under years of normalized life, is the only practicable means of not sinking down with the world, while we dream of an age that is equal to our passions. p84

Methods, adopted from principle of sabotage:

a minimum of risk in taking the action, a minimum of time, and maximum damage… No need to dwell too long on the three types of workers’ sabotage: reducing the speed of work, from “easy does it” pacing to the “work-to-rule” strike; breaking the machines or hindering their function; and divulging company secrets.