Beyond the Moment
Anarchist aspirations in the face of the ongoing disaster(s)
Anarchy can only be anti-industrial
While reading now outdated anarchist texts, I often have the impression that the comrades of a century ago had clearer ideas than us on the world for which they were fighting and which path to take to one day attain that freedom so craved for. Today we live in a gloomy and sickening period that offers us very few hopes for the future. Any speculation on a revolutionary upheaval will be confronted with a “realism” that leaves little space for ideals and utopia. Nevertheless, if we decide to dedicate our lives (or a big part of them) to the struggle, why not try to go further than acting in the moment, if only with imagination? Why not try to reflect on what we mean – and not only on a theoretical level – when we talk about “revolution” and to question through which “stages” such a process would necessarily pass? Or should we declare death once and for all even the possibility of a radical change of the course of things, to renounce this aspiration and acknowledge that our struggles and actions only serve to give meaning and joy to our existence and to not fall into depression, resignation, apathy or despair?
I wouldn’t want to deny this existential dimension of the struggle. It’s essential and I’m totally convinced that radical change isn’t possible without it. Nevertheless, in certain instances of optimism – for example, on the occasion of an unexpected encounter or of a story that warms the heart, of a street movement of a certain scale or of a multiplication of the different attacks – I say to myself that we’re not alone in wanting this upheaval. Because of our daily observation of the horrors that make the world turn, we have the tendency to forget that the tension towards freedom is kept alive beyond those who know and cherish anarchist ideas. So why not think about what a revolutionary upheaval would imply, like they did in the past? Why not talk about it? Why not have this outlook to the future, without fake hopes or shiny illusions but also without cynicism or disillusionments?
A century ago, revolutionary ideas were still widely spread in the middle of a period that was maybe even gloomier than this one (the world came out of the first worldwide slaughter). Errico Malatesta wrote: “Once the monarchical authorities are overthrown, the police corps destroyed, the army dissolved, we will not recognise any new government, especially if it is a central government with the pretence of directing and regulating the movement. We will urge the workers to take total possession of the land, the factories, the railways, the ships, in short, of all means of production, to organise the new production at once, to abandon forever useless and harmful occupations and temporarily those of luxury, and to concentrate the maximum of their forces on the production of foodstuffs and other essentials. We will encourage the collection and economy of all existing products and the organisation of local consumption and exchange between neighbouring and distant localities, in accordance with the requirements of justice and the needs and possibilities of the moment. We will encourage the occupation of empty and under-occupied houses so that no one will be without a roof over their heads and each person would have accommodation corresponding to the space available in relation to the population. We will hasten the destruction of banks, property titles and everything that represents and guarantees the power of the state and capitalist privilege; and we will try to reorganise things in such a way that it will be impossible for bourgeois society to be reconstituted.”
That’s very schematised what revolution would consist of and which role anarchists would play according to the unwavering Neapolitan subversive. A rath-er clear conception in spite of the huge obstacles such a process would imply, and widely shared by a sizeable chunk of the comrades during that period. Certainly, like today, the anarchist movement was criss-crossed by a multitude of discussions, debates and conflicts. For example, there were those who, like Malatesta, were in favour of setting up a federative and unitary anarchist organisation with a formal structure, a shared program, commissions, etc. and those who favoured individual initiative, dispersed propaganda and free association based on affinity, outside of any permanent structure and without any type of centralisation. There were anarchist favourable to an alliance with political parties (socialist, communist, republican) to overthrow monarchy and others who vehemently opposed these “common fronts” with authoritarians and reformists. There were those who favoured the armed strike and the occupation of factories, while others engaged in “libertarian education” and still others hurried to attack the representatives and structures of domination without waiting for the masses. Nevertheless and in spite of these huge differences of visions and methods, I think that I’m not mistaken when I say that most of them would share a conception of the revolutionary process that is similar to the one quoted previously. Armed insurrection of the population, destruction of the church and state, expropriation of the bourgeoisie and collectivisation of the land, means of production and fruit of labour, and abolition of property would be the stages through which the proletariat would achieve to appropriate their lives, freeing themselves of the rule of the exploiters. These weren’t just nice words and the comrades at the time were certainly not naive or deluded people. They were aware of the huge price such a process would demand and many have fallen in the effort for an upheaval.
What can we retain from such an anarchist conception of revolution one century after the article of Malatesta? I do have the impression that a certain amount of comrades continue to have implicitly in mind the several stages (among others) as mentioned by Malatesta, even if today we rarely hear anarchists discuss “how to make a revolution”. Many radicals imagine a series of proletarian uprisings leading up to a decisive confrontation with the forces of domination and to the appropriation of the means of production. But things have changed since the period of Malatesta and they continue to change at such a speed that our understanding of the world seems to be always falling short faced with reality.
Anarchy can only be anti-industrial
A century ago industrial society with its mines, oil wells, factories and railroads, already began to spread its tentacles in a part of the world. But today we reached such a level of dispossession and disaster that we are obliged to look back and even question some of the founding ideas of anarchism. We are far removed from the big hopes that progress provoked, also within the enemies of domination. Malatesta wrote that “the production done by everyone for the benefit of everyone else with the aid of mechanics and chemistry can indefinitely grow”. A significant part of revolutionaries were convinced that a techno-scientific development under the control of workers and for the benefit of them, would be a kind of cure-all that would be able to end the exhausting tasks of humanity. According to this vision, the powerful technologies of capitalist society (trains, planes, cars, industrial machines, etc.) could be still manufactured in a society without class or hierarchy. The control of the means of production would “only” need to pass from the boss to the “proletarians”. The two most important revolutionary attempts in Europe – in Russia and in Spain, despite the differences concerning circumstances and relation between authoritarians and antiauthoritarians – show how this handover established in fact a new hierarchy and kept the division of labour, specialisation and alienation. Even under the banners of the CNT in Spain the exploitation of workers continued to exist and the refusal, strikes and conflicts in the workplace multiplied. Already at that time and even if industrialisation was still recent (the twenties or thirties of the 20th century), there was no possibility for a libertarian appropriation of the industrial world at least on a big scale. To keep the factories meant to keep exploitation alive, but few revolutionaries seemed to fully understand it.
Now, think for a moment about the lives of a big part of our contemporaries. When we look into everything that’s behind every gesture, every action of the “modern human” we see a scenario of death and destruction on a huge scale. Where do our clothes and food come from? From extensive land masses controlled by the agro-industry, flooded with pesticides and artificial fertilizers, worked by machines dependant on oil and, more and more, by robots. How do we move around? By machines manufactured by slaves in the four corners of the planet, functioning on oil or nuclear energy. And what to say about computers, smartphones and all of the internet infrastructure? About the technologies and drugs which we treat ourselves with? No matter which point we start from, we arrive at expropriated, devastated, poisoned lands on the five continents. At huge mines of copper, gold, lithium, rare minerals and so on, with their ponds of cyanide and mercury. At millions of tons of hydrocarbons extracted from the inside of the earth and released into the atmosphere as CO2. At nuclear power plants. At forests razed to the ground. At enormous quantities of chemical, electrical and radio-active waste piling up everywhere. Living species disappear at a dizzying rate, water sources diminish drastically, the climate warms up.
To separate the “environmental question” from the “social question” makes no sense and can only favour the interests of capitalists and politicians. It’s clear that the human being like all other species, suffers the consequences of industrial exploitation. Everywhere the destruction of the planet goes together with disasters, famines and wars without end for the control of raw materials. The rhythm of the devastations provoked by industrial domination accelerates every second, every minute that passes. It’s the logic inherent to accumulation and profit that demands to cut costs, to speed up, to produce more of the same and produce new stuff. The tentacles of the machines reach every corner of the planet and beyond; from the tops of the Andes to the bottoms of the oceans, from the Amazon forests to the Sahel, from the underground to space where we send dozens of thousands of satellites and where we now also seek to exploit raw materials.
In this world where everything becomes artificial, where every human individual becomes a cog in a machine that nobody can entirely control. In this world where loss of sense and despair become stupor, cynicism and blind violence... We come back to the initial question; which revolution is possible and desirable? To me it seems inescapable that we’ll see evermore frequent scenarios of violent confrontations between exploited and exploiters, between military forces protecting a privileged population and a multitude of starving, poisoned, enslaved people (isn’t that already the case for that so-called “third world” forced to migrate?) and as well, wars for survival between the poor. Which possibilities of a radical transformation can open and in which direction do we have to push as anarchists?
A first observation seems unavoidable today. The problem isn’t only who owns the means of production and the fruit of labour. The problem is actually the existence and the nature itself of the means of production and its products. The expropriation and the self-management of the existent, of the industrial machinery in which we are all submerged, are certainly not desirable objectives. And they’re also impossible. Take oil for example. This resource is concentrated in a rather limited amount of regions and without it the contemporary world will stop working. How would the extraction and worldwide distribution be managed by the workers themselves? How could they do without a hierarchical and militarised organisation?
Liberation is impossible without the end of the death machine. I’m deeply convinced that this is the only possible exit and that our efforts should go in that direction even if such a conclusion can seem absurd and crazy in the eyes of a big part of the population. This necessary path – for those who strive for freedom or who simply are determined to halt the definitive extermination of the living by the industrial world – entails a long and tortuous road.I think we can no longer avoid the hugeness of the obstacles and the challenges that are on this road.
A painful split
It’s not an exaggeration to compare a big part of humanity to being terminally ill and of which the survival depends on its connection to a power supply. In a feature of the Revue Militaire Suisse, dedicated to the black-out hypothesis, this is clearly shown from the point of an evaluation of the degree of interdependence upon infrastructure that’s considered to be “critical”. The concept of “criticality” defines the capacity of the components of a system to spread potential disruptions. “An external disruption only produces local and small damages in a “low-criticality” system, because the components of the system are sparsely linked between each other or not at all. On the contrary, in a so-called “high-criticality” system, a disruption (even a small one) spreads to a big part of the system causing important damages, or destroying certain components. If the criticality is higher, the probability increases of a snowball effect that spreads from one system to another or from one critical infrastructure to another. Thus a society with limited interdependence between its different critical sectors will be less impacted in case of a black-out than a society that’s highly interdependent like the so-called developed countries. The damages will be far more considerable for an ultra-connected society.” Among the mentioned “critical infrastructures”, those responsible for the power supply play a vital role. A prolonged interruption of the power supply of a country will provoke the halt of the informationand telecommunication systems, of the banks and financial services, of the transport of commodities, but also of the drinkable water supply, of the treatment of sewage water and of hospital services. According to this study, an interruption of the power supply during eight days causes a cascading effect capable of provoking a definitive collapse of society. Certainly, the mega-machine will collapse, but with it probably a high number of human lives because of their lack of autonomy (including water, food and healthcare).
According to the same experts at the service of domination, this scenario isn’t science-fiction. The electrical infrastructure is ageing, fragile and the “risk factors” multiply. Natural catastrophes (floods, snow, heat waves, ice, wind or solar storms, pandemics, etc.), overload of the grid, industrial explosions or accidents (possibly nuclear), technical and digital problems, sabotage, attacks, cyberattacks or human errors are all potential triggers. Concerning the link between a possible pandemic and a black-out, this text from 2018 states: “a pandemic can reduce the amount of employees greatly. They can be absent because they’re sick, or because they have to take care of others, or because they fear for their own health. In these conditions, the electrical grid could be understaffed; a factor that could lead to a black-out.”
Two years later, in the middle of the Covid19 crisis, this image of a collapse is very present. States multiply the calls to “resilience”, to adapt to always more precarious conditions but certainly not to try changing course. In a desperate move to continue the march of progress, domination takes measures that are paradoxically making its functioning more fragile. Telework, 5G and everything digital increase the degree of criticality of every component of the system. As the Revue Militaire Suisse stressed; “the risk of a black-out increases proportionally with the increase in hyper-connectivity”.
The suicidal march of the techno-industrial society will sweep with it a part of humanity, it’s already doing so. Should we act in favour of the collapse before the technological control becomes omnipresent, before the forests are razed to the ground, before the wild fauna has disappeared, before the air becomes unbreathable? The subversives of the 21st century are cruelly confronted to this question. Given the level of interdependence between our sick species and its lethal creations, we are stuck between the “safety” of a fatal destiny and the insecurity of a path of freedom and revolt. Today more than yesterday, actions of rupture can have heavy consequences. These last years we heard on several occasions the state propaganda against sabotage of infrastructure and telecommunication; they would be “irresponsible” actions that put people’s lives in danger, specifically those of older people who wouldn’t be able to reach the emergency services. It’s a blackmail that the powerful use and will always use to isolate and repress the rebels. It wants to put the weight on them of the generalised dispossession and misery, the loss of autonomy, the social and ecological disaster provoked by this lethal system. By the way, the same discourse today used against saboteurs, was used yesterday against the yellow vests who blocked roads with heavy consequences for society. And it could be used in case of a massive strike that would fast provoke shortages. Every radical action against the course of this society, if it’s the expression of a handful of rebels or of an insurgent mass, will bring chaotic situations and sometimes big difficulties for the population. That was true one century ago and it’s even more so today in a time where a big part of the population seems incapable of living without technological prostheses.
On the other hand, if we cannot take on the responsibility of the dispossession and loss of autonomy of humanity and it shouldn’t put a brake on our actions, we should totally take responsibility for our choices and actions as anarchists and revolutionaries. We didn’t choose to live in this world, nevertheless we take every day decisions that can go in one direction or another and it’s up to every individual and every group to measure and evaluate the impact of their actions. Personally, I think that even if we can be disgusted by the widespread passivity or worse, the support of the masses for the values of domination, there’s no desirable change possible starting from a hate against such generic and unreal categories as “the people” or “humanity”.
That’s why I think discourses advocating “disasters” and waiting with a kind of mystical faith in the “collapse”, are rather dangerous. We cannot – as the defenders of the order do – put on a same level insurrections and deadly events (accidents, shortages, climatic events, etc.) that can disrupt normality. Even if in both cases we’ll probably witness big changes and dramatic consequences, the first is a social phenomenon motivated by a refusal and – eventually – a will to change, that can carry the seeds of something radically different, the start of a transformation; while the second are new conditions, maybe even harder, that – even if they can cause a “collapse” of the techno-industrial system – will not bring about mechanically a change in the social relations at the base of this system. Said in a schematic and without a doubt simplistic way; a “collapse” created by a series of revolts and insurrections can open the door for new forms of solidarity and more free and decentralised social organisations, while a “collapse” imposed by “exterior” conditions would rather have the effect of creatingpanic, a need of security and a competition for survival. Of course, in the two cases there will be both; egoism and solidarity, as well as the emergence of more free forms of organising and more authoritarian ones. But to think that eventually, all that matters is that the world of today collapses, never mind the reason, would amount to considering every effort for a revolutionary upheaval redundant. In such a case all we would do would be accelerate or trigger the process of collapse, that would supposedly bring almost mechanically also a transformation of the social relations. Finally, this vision doesn’t give space to ideas, individuals and subjectivities.
I don’t think that an apocalyptic collapse like imagined in the cinema and literature is desirable. My actions don’t aim to provoke the death of millions, my struggle – our struggle – doesn’t aim for human extinction but for the death of a system that is provoking the extinction of thousands of species and that if it will not be stopped before, will maybe one day erase us from the face of the earth. I don’t see other alternatives; either we continue at full speed towards a series of inevitable disasters (that have already begun by the way) or we become aware, pull the emergency brake and get off the train. Certain events seem to suggest that a refusal of the technological colonisation of our lives has already begun to manifest itself and to spread. Between March 2020 and March 2021, in the middle of a period of a techno-police overhaul of society with the pretext of the health emergency, in France alone we’ve heard of 174 acts of sabotage – one every other day – targeting the telecommunication infrastructure. Unfortunately due to the repression, we discovered that persons with rather different ideas, perspectives and journeys have carried out these attacks. Nevertheless a similar concern and a certain saturation towards the hi-tech and ultra-connected world were expressed through these actions.
In this context a dialogue is starting between those who from an anti-authoritarian base share the perspective of direct action against the veins of domination. It seems interesting to me to pick up the threads again of this debate that doesn’t only deal with questions of “strategy” but also of the meaning and objectives of subversive actions.
In a text titled “Quelques réflexions sur les attaques d’antennes relais” first published on Indymedia Nantes and republished by the anarchist bulletin Avis de tempêtes, the question is raised about “looking further” than these “holes in the net that can be repaired in a matter of hours or days in the best of cases”. The author(s), while stressing the relevance of cell towers as accessible and spreadout targets, propose to go further, to coordinate, to “concentrate on the critical pieces of this system if we want to deliver really harmful blows”. Two attacks during the Big Lockdown of March until May 2020 are mentioned as examples; the cutting of several optic fibre cables in the region of Paris on the 5th of May, causing a significant breakdown of telecommunications (links cut between local and European data-centres, more than 100 000 people without telephone or internet connection, including big companies and police stations) and the coordinated arson on the 17th of May of three cell towers around Grenoble (hundreds of thousands of persons without internet, television and radio during several days). The authors of the text also mention the importance of the electrical infrastructure in the functioning of the techno-industrial system and the possibilities of an electrical black-out for subversives. In this perspective, the necessity of taking the step “from what can be lumped together as practices of a low-intensity conflict to what can become a more open conflict” is determined by an urgency due to the destruction by this society, that wrecks nature and imposes its total control, but is also a matter of a certain pessimism towards the possibilities of a generalised upheaval; “no time any more for hoping that an umpteenth social movement will become uncontrollable if we break enough windows, or for hoping that because of the small examples of spread-out sabotage an evermore obedient mass becomes a furious mass”.
At least two texts followed up on these “several thoughts”. The first, “A l’assaut de l’existant” , sent to Avis de tempêtes in July and published in the issue of 15th August in that bulletin and the second, “Ethique et stratégie” is part of the pamphlet “Des singes, pas de savants. Récits et réflections en temps de confinement”, “written by several hands in the summer of 2020”. The first one, even if it’s not a direct answer to the text published on Indymedia, analyses the proliferation of attacks on infrastructure of the domination from a different angle. While starting from the same – individual – urgency to act without waiting against “this world of organised submission, resignation and passivity”, the author thinks that the “simple multiplication of action groups” will unfortunately not satisfy the necessity of demolishing the structures of domination and the social relations that are its pillars. Actions with small numbers “doesn’t necessarily mean acting in isolation, and if power doesn’t lie in numbers but in its spread-out and uncontrollable character, the question than becomes [...] how, starting from oneself, to contribute while favouring, extending, hastening or escalating the social war”. While analysing the numerous acts of sabotage against the telecommunication infrastructure, the author criticises a vision of attack centred on the idea of effectiveness and shows that they can be evaluated by criteria that are not purely quantitative (reaching a maximum number of persons, creating a disruption that takes as long as possible to repair), taking into account for example the characteristics of the place and the moment of the action, or the specific projects or companies that the sabotage impacts. Finally, according to this text, a quantitative vision doesn’t have to take the upper hand over the qualitative dimension of actions; “can we not simply say that a sabotage succeeded (or was “effective”) when we accomplished what we wanted to do with the means we used? That it is first of all a question of singularity, that it’s a moment when we can reach for the action, for that fleeting moment of quality when we finally have a grip on our lives and on the stars?”
The critique in the text “Ethique et stratégie” joins in certain aspects, the one of “A l’assaut de l’existant”. The text compares the underlying vision of the “Quelques réflexions” text to the environmentalism of the Deep Green Resistance group. What is criticised here is a “systemic, cybernetic and catastrophist” vision of ecology, “a prisoner to defensive attitudes and the sacralisation of the living”. The author of “Ethique et stratégie” states; “it’s not for saving an ecosystem that I fight, and neither for social equality. I fight to experience that this bloody world isn’t immoveable, that the mega-machine isn’t indestructible, that the Leviathan isn’t an almighty god.” Starting from there, any consideration based on criteria of objective effectiveness and any kind of planned strategy is brushed aside; “the only strategy that has sense to me is the one which consists of an analysis of every situation, every upheaval, by persons that act themselves.” Telecommunications and energy are seen by the author as “strategic targets” because “they allow to experiment perspectives of black-out, and behind them, to attempt to break with the myth of a society in an indestructible network [...] But there’s not a common sense “thing to do” [...] Attack is an inquiry, a means of knowing the world at the same time as its critique in action”.
I share a part of the critiques brought up by the two last texts I summarised here. To think that an action group or different action groups can once and for all stop the exploitation, control and alienation machine by increasing the power or effectiveness of their actions brings back at best (as stressed in the “Ethique et stratégie” text) the old myth of Revolution and at worst, a delusion of omnipotence that can easily tip us in the world of authority and in military logic. That’s why I refuse any conception that opposes on one side a handful of enlightened revolutionaries and on the other a bad power as if between these two camps there’s only a desert of passivity and resignation. Domination in its different forms arises first of all from a complex set of social relations and these relations are criss-crossed by conflicts. Like a comrade wrote some years ago; “to stay prisoners of the ideology of victory means to not understand that an active minority, whatever it might be, can never really win, because this victory would be the defeat of any possibility of limitless freedom. If we want to talk about victory, it has to be first of all the masses in revolt, freely associated in new social creations, capable of giving birth to different, incredible, vital formations, of a kind that no imagination, even the most unrestrained, can conceive of starting from the repressive mud that oppresses and surrounds us today [...] The struggle has many nuances and one objective; to act in a way that it can become the most far-reaching as possible.”
According to me that has nothing to do with waiting for the masses to move and then to attack, neither with that annoying idea that comes back every so often that “we shouldn’t do what the masses will not understand”, which implies if we follow through on the logic, to lower our level of conflict until we fall in the mud of demands and reformism. By the way, the “masses in revolt” to take the words used beforehand only have an existence of its own from an abstract and ideological viewpoint. I prefer to see a multitude of individuals who find each other in a journey of struggle and, better, of self-emancipation, and thus who in a certain way rebel against their “being a mass”.
But, again, I don’t think there’s anything mechanical about insurrections and revolutions. I think it is first of all due to the initiatives of minorities and the spreading of revolutionary ideas that the conflict can deepen and reach a real breaking point. Even if certain conditions of social exclusion, oppression and exploitation can wear down the spirits until pushing a part of individuals to not accept chains, —11— suffering and humiliations any more. The refusal of a specific oppression – for example, the imposition of the patriarchal order, the police, wage exploitation, or an industrial pollution – are starting points. But this refusal will not be enough to push the revolt over certain limits from where recuperation is no longer possible. I’m convinced that the propagation of horizons of freedom, of radically different worlds, first being shaped inside ourselves, can open this possibility. “We” – that much-touted “active minority” – have to cultivate these images of freedom. And not only through theories and writings, but also and most of all through actions that target the causes of our dispossession and our exploitation. That’s what anarchists called one century ago “propaganda by the deed”.
Minority action is first of all the individual experience of a qualitative dimension radically opposed to the reproduction of daily life, to the mind-numbing ‘doing’ of work, of obedience and of passivity. But the purpose of actions doesn’t stay enclosed in this individual dimension. Every hit against the dominant order is part of a larger context where it can have different meanings and perspectives, showing the fragility of domination and broadening the scope of possibilities. Even if an action or a series of actions carried out by a small minority of the population isn’t enough to radically change the course of things. It’s true that every act of revolt, every direct action is important and has a meaning of its own. But certain attacks – targeting important hubs – have a stronger impact on the flow of goods and data and allow the critique in action of this deadly normality to reach a greater amount of people. Certain targets need more research, more effort, more imagination and more organisation than others, but that doesn’t mean that those actions are not “reproducible”. Setting up a hierarchy between actions is an error that we have to avoid at any cost. But the proposal of creating a coordination between action groups to create more severe disruptions, as well as the proposal to look towards the nerve centres of the system, doesn’t imply to sacrifice an anti-authoritarian ethic in the name of effectiveness. The question is rather; what do we expect of an action? According to me, it would be illusory and dangerous to think of minority action as a magic key capable of halting domination. Small groups can slowdown the advance of the juggernaut, but I don’t think they can stop it once and for all. We cannot reduce domination to its technological tool set, just as we shouldn’t reduce the impact of actions to the damages they cause and underestimate the meaning they carry in a situation that’s not quite pacified.
Here and now, but with an eye on the future
In the coming years, most probably, struggles against industrial nuisances will continue to escalate with the piling up of social tensions, ecological and health disasters, energy shortages, increased plunder and ravaging of territories. An anarchist critique of techno-industrial society can reach many ears. The horrors caused by the exploitation of the living is more and more obvious in the eyes of a big number of people. If we think that there’s only “a mass complicit in the system” around us, we chose to ignore all the diverse refusals that begin to explode here and there. In that case we can fall for a faith in a cathartic catastrophe and for a narcissist glorification of our own actions. On the contrary, if we look to the prison-world that surrounds us with a more clear-headed view, we can spot the cracks in the walls that imprison us. Cracks that we can widen into ruptures in a struggle that doesn’t want to conquer the existent but wants to destroy it and lay the bases for a new life.
The issue isn’t to wait for the masses, to convince them of the legitimacy of our ideas, to act stepby-step without scaring the honest workers. But it’s also not to declare a private war on power, to despise “the people” and to fetishise action. We are anarchists and we act as anarchists, starting from our ethical position, our analyses and our perspective. All things considered, our words, our actions and maybe even our lives are a proposal, which is very different of an authoritarian project of revolution and society like the Marxists with their programs. To formulate a proposal in actions doesn’t mean to be a guide in the struggle and even less to impose it, but to create a discourse and practices that have a potential of rupture and transformation. In the worst case scenario, this proposal will be ignored, ridiculed, misunderstood; but we will have lived our lives in the beauty of our ideas, we will have burned but from our own light, we will not have lived in the shadow of a church. At best... who will tell what will happen in the future? When I look back ten or —12— fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have predicted a lot of the explosions of rage that happened and I don’t think they will stop happening, on the contrary.
This text is an invitation to not refuse a view towards the future, to not fear to go beyond the moment, to think in terms of a revolutionary proposal. To stop believing in the myth of the Revolution, to stop believing in the myth of Progress... that’s certainly freeing oneself of heavy shackles. But that doesn’t mean to renounce a project of radical transformation of the world. This upheaval can only be thought of in the long-term and I imagine it as a slow process of disintegration. What would happen if always more numerous acts of sabotage against vital infrastructures of domination would start to seriously disrupt the interconnection on which the economy and state depend? If the resistance against nuisances (mining, energy or transport infrastructure, etc.) would become hotbeds of autonomy and insurrection and if states would start to lose control over certain parts of their territories? If a part of humanity would start to destroy the metropolises and to transform space by taking it away from the grip of the economy and power, creating unseen forms of activity, of relations and exchange? This could seem totally unreal today but it’s in this direction that our efforts have to go, according to me. It’s not about drawing up programs, tracing predetermined paths, but to dare to state our desires also if we’re a very small minority who wants to go in this direction. Isn’t it maybe aspirations (precisely, utopian ones) that we need – to struggle, to regain the strength to fight faced with a gloomy reality that killed all hope in the possibility of change? A view towards what we want seems necessary today to develop analyses that are capable of directing our work of agitation and our actions. Without drowning in wishful thinking, without lying to oneself and others, but persevering in our will of upheaval and transformation.