For Insurrection Without Vanguards
The writings of tiqqun and the Invisible Committee have given rise to the emergence of an authoritarian insurrectionalist tendency that has been recruiting and building its ranks for about the past decade and a half. Although one of the trademarks of tiqqunism is its approach to “invisibility”, or not being legible as a distinct tendency, after so many years and some significant betrayals, tiqqunists have thoroughly revealed who they are and what they want, which is at direct odds with any struggle against authority.
While tiqqunism has crossed the pond from France and taken root across turtle island to some extent, the anarchist critique of tiqqunism has not. This reflects a general commitment to tolerance in the anarchist space, an unfortunate reaction against the ideological dogmatism that silos people in insular and stale subcultural enclosures. Thinking through the lens of this false dilemma comes at the expense of uncompromising clarity around how we relate to power, reformism, representation, and the mechanisms of politics. In short, this tolerance, even when motivated by a desire for openness and connection, blurs the lines which lie at the very foundation of autonomy and selforganization.
Tiqqunism pretends to offer an escape from ideological camps, transcending the confines of identities that no longer serve us and inviting us to be partisans in their insurrectionary composition. Not only is this an empty promise, as the subcultural niche they have formed is highly exclusive, insular, oppressive, and frankly unpleasant, it is also a way of manipulating readers into uncritically adopting, or at least tolerating, their proposals.
This collection aims to shed light on the authoritarian ambitions woven throughout tiqqunist ideas in order to encourage anarchists to abandon tolerance and move towards principled and necessary conflict. Ideas are not neutral, they are not incidental aesthetic preferences or personality quirks, they form the basis of who we are, how we move through the world, and how we struggle. As the authors of Blanqui or the Statist Insurrection remind us, the ideas we feel close to are “not irrelevant, and constitute choosing an unmistakable side.”
Going In Circles is still relevant over a decade later, as it shows how the practices of tiqqunists are entirely predictable from their magnum opus, “The Coming Insurrection.” Blanqui or the Statist Insurrection traces authoritarian insurrectionalism to its source. Blanqui in Venaus gives a brief note on the proposals for recuperation within “To Our Friends.” The Death of Rémi and Confrontations furthers the theme of recuperation, commenting on the tiqqunist mobilization of the State murdering a demonstrator in order to dialogue with it. Decisions, Compositions, Negotiations hones in on their logic of “composition” in the context of land defense struggles, and Here Lies a Corpse speaks to their use of composition to pacify the ZAD. We close with our own “composition,” intended to lay bare the essence of the tiqqunist project in the very words of those not-so-invisible men who love to put their names on things.
While tiqqunism inevitably plays out differently across contexts, we value the insights and experiences of comrades from other territories in recognizing and attacking authority in all its guises. Ill Will Editions recently published a text championing “composition” as the strategy that secured “victory” at the ZAD in Notre-Dame-des-Landes and proposes the same strategy be used in the No Cop City struggle. In bringing these texts together, we hope to spread hostility to this vision of victory and to tiqqunist involvement in the No Cop City struggle, or anywhere else they rear their managerial heads.
For insurrection without vanguards,
Going in Circles: A Critique of “The Coming Insurrection”
Translated excerpt from A Corps Perdu #3, international anarchist review, 2010
This book is composed of seven circles, four chapters and a preface. In the first part, the Invisible Committee takes us through the hell of present-day society in Dantesque fashion. In the second part, we are finally introduced to the paradise of insurrection, which we could reach by way of the proliferation of communes. If the first part easily wins the reader’s approval through its description of a world strewn with permanent disasters, the second is much emptier. Both, however, share a common theme: a certain vagueness, well concealed by a dry and authoritative style. Perhaps this is not even a flaw, but rather a basic ingredient in the appeal of this little book.
To make its point, the Committee does not need analyses. It prefers statements. Enough of these critiques and heady debates, make way for the obvious and concrete objectivity that is immediately self-evident! With contrived humility, the authors even specify from the start that they aim only to “introduce a little order into the common-places of our time, collecting some of the murmurings around barroom tables and behind closed bedroom doors”, that is to say that they are satisfied to “lay down a few necessary truths” (p. 12). Besides, they are not the authors of this book, but “made themselves scribes of the situation,” because “it’s the privileged feature of radical circumstances that a rigorous application of logic leads to revolution.” It was necessary to think it through: the common-places are the necessary truths that must be transcribed in order to awaken the sense of rigor, which will logically lead to revolution! Obvious, isn’t it?
You will find very few ideas upon which to reflect in the seven circles that make up the contemporary social hell, and many states of mind in which to partake. The authors avoid basing their discourse on any explicit theory at all costs. To avoid running the risk of being outdated or questioned, they prefer to record the very banality of life, where everything is transformed into something familiar — as an array of ‘common-places’ where the imaginary figure of “the Frenchman” surfaces at every turn. They might as well pepper in any platitude whatsoever while they’re at it, even to the point of portraying reality as the exclusive product of totalitarian domination, rather than the fruit of a dialectic at the heart of the social war. It is true that this would require them to go a bit further than just generalized feelings. The propaganda of power is treated as a significant and, above all, credible source to describe their imaginary world without classes or individuals: common knowledge (pg. 19), the HR manager of Daimler-Benz (pg. 47), an Israeli officer (pg. 58), jokes among executives (pg. 64) or the first opinion poll that comes along (pg. 65) do the trick. In The Coming Insurrection, everything is leveled, crushed by control and repression. It is not the world that is described, but the desert that power dreams of, how it represents itself. This near absence of dialectic between the dominant and the dominated, the exploiters and the exploited, is no accident: the reader should find themselves in this vision of the totalitarian nightmare, they should be frightened by it. It is not a matter of convincing them, nor of pointing out the mechanisms of adherence or voluntary participation in our own servitude. The reader must share in this pseudo-universal hell in order to then be saved in one foul swoop, if they only join the big We and its subjective intensities.
By taking note of the imminent end of the world in an apocalyptic tone, and going over the various social spheres being consumed by the flames, the Invisible Committee dwells on the most immediately perceivable effects of the disaster, while keeping silent about its possible causes. They inform us, for example, that “total misery becomes intolerable the moment it is shown for what it is: without cause or reason” (pg. 65). Without cause or reason? These are not the sharpest analyses of the existent, neither those of a more communist variety against capitalism nor those of a more anarchist variety against the State, that would not be vague enough, and there are other texts for that, like those reserved for a small milieu (the two issues of the magazine Tiqqun, disbanded in 2001, or The Call, a 2003 book, an excerpt of which forms the 4th edition cover of The Coming Insurrection). In this book, political powerlessness or economic bankruptcy never lead to the development of a radical criticism of politics or needs, because these themes are only pretext to a nauseating description meant to valorize what follows. The Coming Insurrection, born as a commodity, was simply designed and written to reach the “general public.” As this “general public” is composed of spectators eager for emotions to consume in the moment, as they are resistant to any idea that could give meaning to their entire existence, let’s give them easy images to latch onto that won’t be too tiring.
In order to more effectively hold the reader’s hand, the authors must include them in the construction of a great collective “We,” which is justified in contrast to the vile individual “I”. The individual, which everyone knows only exists as a Reebok motto (“I am what I am”), is quickly disposed of as a synonym for “identity” (p. 14) or “straitjacket” (p. 90). It is, in fact, the famous gangs that are supposed to embody “all possible joy” (p. 23). Gangs are no longer the complex product of resourcefulness and incarceration, of mutual aid (which is different from solidarity) in survival and competition, but rather the form of self-organization par excellence that must be emulated. In another book, this sentiment is pronounced even more explicitly: “We are not afraid of forming gangs; and can only laugh at those who will decry us as a mafia.” (The Call, Proposition V).
As others have noted, the authors of The Coming Insurrection “...see the decomposition of all social forms as an “opportunity”: just like Lenin, for whom the factory trained the army of proletarians, for these strategists who are betting on the reconstitution of unconditional solidarity of the clan variety, the modern “imperial” chaos is training the gangs, fundamental cells of their imaginary party that will combine into “communes” in order to join the insurrection.”
Aspiring shepherds savor only the smell of the flock, “the gathering of many groups, committees and gangs” (p. 107), everything with a sufficiently herd-like mentality in order to exercise control. Uniqueness must be rejected, it interferes with the formation of a sufficient mass workforce.
The book also repeats over and over again that this society has become unlivable, but mainly because it has not kept its promises. And if it had? If “the people” had not been pushed out of “their fields,” “their streets,” “their neighborhoods,” “the hallways of their buildings” (p. 97), if we had not been robbed of “our own language by education,” of “our songs by reality TV contests,” of “our city by the police” (p. 20)… perhaps we could still live happily in our world? As if it had previously been ours, this world, and these neighborhoods or these cities were not precisely an example of our dispossession, something to destroy. As if the poor reappropriating the carceral architecture of these neighborhoods were not precisely one of the ultimate signs of alienation. No one can “envy these neighborhoods” (p. 20), and certainly not because they have an “informal economy.” We gladly leave the hypocritical distinctions between the mafia and the state to the Committee, or those made between the different expressions of market domination, that is to say, the little game of tactical preferences between the different faces of the master. We prefer to fight against authority and the economy, as such.
As they proceed to deny the existence of a multifaceted social war that is not the exclusive domain of one subject (the rebellious youth of the banlieue), one sometimes wonders whether the scribes of the little green book might be coming from a place of ignorance. Perhaps they simply reflect the readers who are being addressed, those who look at life in the projects and only see policemen and young rioters, those who settle the score with their families by maintaining ties to subsidize social subversion (p. 26), those who can “circulate freely from one end of the continent to the other, and even across the world without too much trouble” (p. 99), or even participate in the electoral spectacle as if they were performing some subversive gesture (“We’re beginning to suspect that it’s only against voting itself that people continue to vote,” p. 7).
Insurrection as a Proliferation of Communes
Where are we meant to arrive after having this modern hell recounted to us? What dawn might we be led to by the end of this civilization in decline that has nothing more to offer us? A civilization that, no less, alleged to produce, like a well-oiled machine, “the means of its own destruction” (this is not a reference to the ongoing nuclear catastrophe, but to… “The proliferation of mobile phones and Internet access points”! (p. 46))?
Upon close inspection, the insurrection seems to come in this book with no aim other than hastening the great collapse, without moving beyond it to orient, for example, towards anarchy (or communism, for others). It is its own goal, and would be sufficient in and of itself. The tiqqunists already noted, though not without ridicule: “We are working to build up such a collective force, that a statement like “Death to Bloom!” or “Down with the Young-Girl!” is enough to cause days and days of rioting.” More than nihilism—beyond this world there is nothing but this world, without future or possibility—it is a revisited millenarianism where the apocalyptic future is already hidden in the present, making it seem totally detached from our present and deliberate (or unintentional) actions. We should simply be capable of embracing this agony in order to make it a moment of liberation and purification, to take part in the great destructive insurrection by establishing ourselves as a force. Not only does the realist catastrophism of such a position seem doubtful, but in the event of such a situation, it also seems like this insurrection would only bring about a restructuring of power, and not necessarily a real transformation of the world, undermining all domination. The “communes” never appear to be conceptualized as bases for experimentation, as a tension. They are already here: “Every wildcat strike is a commune; every building occupied collectively and on a clear basis is a commune.” (pg. 102)
Moreover, this question is so blurred for the Committee that they admit: “We can no longer even see how an insurrection might begin.” (pg. 95) By riots, one would be tempted to answer. Or by a revolt which, although initially of a minority, generalizes socially. But no, that’s already too committed for them. It is better to leave the question unresolved, to appeal to as many curious people as possible, better to avoid subjects on which there are heated divisions. Better to continue to simplify the reality of antagonism by presenting an Everything that can only be attacked from a hypothetical elsewhere, by “secession,” by “surreptitiously overtak[ing]” (pg. 109) or by constituting “a series of centers of desertion” (The Call, Proposition V). By failing to see insurrection as a particular process informed by everything that precedes it, they avoid any reflection on how to fight for the destruction of this system, within and from this system, while also already carrying the projectuality of another world with us in the way we fight. That would require starting from the opposite hypothesis to that of the authors. A revolutionary hypothesis that is neither alternativist (we can build niches within the existent, and already “a new idea of communism is to be elaborated” in capitalism) nor messianic (the inevitability of the collapse of civilization for which we must prepare). In reality, there is no outside that could escape the social relations of domination and thus constitute the basis for building a force towards insurrection. It is only in moments of rupture that these social relations can be subverted. As an old text already said: “No role, no matter how much it puts one at risk in terms of the law, can take the place of the real changing of relations. There is no short-cut, no immediate leap into the elsewhere. The revolution is not a war.” Another question that usually arises with insurrection is that of relationships and affinity (the sharing of general perspectives and ideas), which is not the same as affectivity (a momentary sharing of particular situations and feelings, such as rage). Again, don’t worry about getting an answer, because the Committee gets away with an acrobatic leap: “All affinity is affinity within a common truth.” (pg. 98) The trick is simple. Rather than starting from individual desires, desires that are inherently varied and divergent, it is enough to start from social situations which can be easily perceived as common and named “truths.” Because the Committee is not interested in the ideas we possess, it prefers the truths that possess us. “A truth isn’t a view on the world but what binds us to it in an irreducible way. A truth isn’t something we hold but something that carries us.” (pg. 97) The truth is messianic, external and objective, unequivocal, beyond discussion. It is enough to share the feeling of this truth to find ourselves agreeing on banalities such as “we have to get organized.” To avoid breaking the spell, we must swallow the truth that the dead end of the current social order is transformed into a highway towards insurrection, and the possibility that, for example, this agony could be prolonged is impossible. And since all this is inescapable, everyone can pleasantly avoid asking questions like “organize how,” “to do what,” “with whom,” “why”?
And so disappears the old debate as well — between conceiving of the destruction of the old world as an inevitable prerequisite to any authentic social transformation, or believing that the emergence of new forms of life will succeed in doing away with the old authoritarian models by themselves, making any generalized direct confrontation with power superfluous. The Invisible Committee is in fact able to reconcile these tensions which have always stood in opposition to one another without any problem. On the one hand, they hope for “a multiplicity of communes that will displace the institutions of society: family, school, union, sports club, etc.” (pg. 102) And on the other hand, they advocate: “Not making ourselves visible, but instead turning the anonymity to which we’ve been relegated to our advantage, and through conspiracy, nocturnal or faceless actions, creating an invulnerable position of attack.” (pg. 113) Here again, there is something for everyone — for the back-to-the-landers who try out the experience of settling quietly in the countryside (for whom the Commune is the oasis of happiness in the desert of capitalism) and for the enemies of this world (for whom the Commune is synonymous with the insurgent Paris of 1871).
Like today’s advocates of the “non-state public sphere” (from the most boisterous anarchist militants to the slickest “disobedient” Negrist), the Invisible Committee argues that “local selforganization superimposes its own geography over the state cartography, scrambling and blurring it: it produces its own secession.” (pg. 108) But while the Negrists understand the progressive spread of experiences of self-organization as an alternative to the insurrectionary hypothesis, the Committee proposes a strategic integration of paths until then considered incompatible. It is no longer sabotage or the small business, but sabotage and the small business. Planting potatoes by day and knocking down pylons by night. Daytime activity is justified by the need for independence from services currently provided by the market or the state and to guarantee oneself a certain material autonomy (“How will we feed ourselves once everything is paralyzed? Looting stores, as in Argentina, has its limits,” pg. 125). Nocturnal activity is posited as a requirement for interrupting the flows of power (“In order for something to rise up in the midst of the metropolis and open up other possibilities, the first act must be to interrupt its perpetuum mobile,” pg. 61). The scribes then ask themselves, “Why shouldn’t communes proliferate everywhere? In every factory, every street, every village, every school. At long last, the reign of the base committees!” (pg. 101). Why, indeed, should it not be possible to achieve the old 1970s illusion of “armed communes”, that not only defend their own liberated space but also go on to attack the spaces that remain in the clutches of power?
The answer lies in the contradiction that the authors claim to overcome: outside of an insurrectionary context, a commune exists only in the cracks left empty by power. Its survival remains linked to its innocuousness. As long as it is a question of growing carrots in organic gardens with no gods or masters , of offering cheap (or free) meals in popular canteens, of treating the sick in self-managed clinics, it all goes well. Basically, having someone fill in the gaps of social services can be useful, and it provides a convenient place to park the marginalized, far from the windows of the metropolis. But as soon as one goes out in search of the enemy, things start to go awry. At some point the police come knocking, and the commune is finished, or at least resized. The second reason why any attempt to generalize “armed communes” outside of an insurgency is futile is due to the material difficulties in which such experiments flounder, with a myriad of problems accompanied by a chronic lack of resources. Since only a privileged few are able to resolve any difficulty as fast as they can write a check, participants of the commune are almost always forced to dedicate all their time and energy to its internal “functioning.”
In short, sticking with the metaphor, on the one hand, the needs of the daytime activity tend to absorb all strength at the expense of the nighttime activity; on the other hand, the consequences of the nighttime activity tend to endanger the daytime activity. Sooner or later this tension explodes. This does not mean that we should deny the importance and the value of such experiences, but it does mean that we cannot overburden them with a content and scope that they cannot have: that of already being the moment of rupture itself, which, if it expanded, would form the insurrection. As Nella Giacomelli already noted in 1907 after the experience of Aiglemont: “A colony founded by the men of today and obliged to exist in the margins of the current society so as to draw in its resources is fatally destined to remain nothing else than a grotesque imitation of bourgeois society. It cannot give us the formula of tomorrow, because it itself reflects too much of the old formula of the present, which unconsciously permeates us all to the point of disfigurement.”
Extending the concept of “commune” to all manifestations of rebellion or revolt and equating the sum of these moments with Insurrection is another of the Committee’s instrumental gimmicks, which goes in circles without resolving the question. If the totality of subversive practices is the insurrection, then it is not coming: it is already here. Haven’t you realized? This tendency towards confusion allows them to pander to both those who aim to satisfy their daily needs as well as those who aim to realize their utopian desires, to entertain both those who dedicate themselves to “understanding plankton biology” (pg. 107) and those who ask themselves questions such as “how can a TGV line or an electrical network be rendered useless?” (pg. 112). While The Committee can establish in the absolute a kind of self-interested complementarity between all the practices, they do not advance one inch on what these forms develop, on the question of why which is the only thing that really gives them meaning, positing that a collection of against is sufficient. Perhaps one of the aims of this argument for forms of hostility without speaking to their substance resides in the Committee’s explicit desire to draw lines “of battle on a global scale” (pg. 99). That is to say, not to deepen the passion for an existence free of any form of domination, but to realize all kinds of alliances that only this absence of a shared positive substance would make possible.
Finally, one last point piqued our curiosity: if this book does not define a why of the insurrection, could it at least face the question of the how? Here again, avoidance is dressed up in style: “As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us.” (pg. 124) It’s useless, therefore, to waste time in tedious debates on what method to adopt and which goals to pursue, the disagreements these debates provoke are too inconvenient. Let’s go fishing for information, and the decision will come by itself, beautiful, brilliant and valid for all. Do you need some more details? Take a look at the historical references of The Call and The Coming Insurrection, and use your imagination. If “the fires of November 2005 offer a model” (pg. 113), it is in words only, for the action that the scribes have in mind better resemble a Black Panther Party led by Blanqui (i.e., perhaps the construction of the “party of insurrection” or of “permanent collective organization”). This authoritarian mishmash of concepts, supplemented by such elusive notions as relational “density” or communitarian “spirit” (pg. 102), rounds out the confusing quality of the book, which, as already noted, is not its flaw but its major attraction. The Coming Insurrection is in step with the times, perfectly fashionable. It possesses the qualities of the moment, a flexibility and elasticity that can adapt to all circumstances in a rebellious environment. It is well presented, has style, and ends up being liked by everyone because it makes everyone right without rocking the boat.
Let us return now to the starting point of this review, and take this book whose authors decided to put out through a leftist commercial publisher and to distribute in the temples of consumption at face value for once. If it is clear that “the task of cultural circles is to spot nascent intensities and to explain away the sense of whatever it is you’re doing” (pg. 100), let’s leave the hypocrisy of passing off simple collaborationism as a daring incursion into enemy territory, as sound tactics, to the opportunists. What a strange idea it is to secede or become autonomous from institutions which they advise to participate in without hesitation!
A revolutionary movement driven by the desire to reach a rupture with the existent does not need the validation of the social order that it criticizes. The Coming Insurrection in all the bookshop windows is nothing but a caricature and commodification of an insurrection that might shatter them all.
Insurgents without blindfolds
Blanqui or the Statist Insurrection
Translated from Finimondo, 2011
At best, Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805–1881) leaves us with a slogan and a book. The slogan is No Gods, No Masters, which was the title of the newspaper he founded in November 1880, a few months before his death. The book is the fascinating Eternity by the Stars, a meditation on the existence of parallel worlds and eternal return. A battle cry and a philosophical work of astronomy: that is all that’s worth retaining from Blanqui. The rest, we gladly leave to the dustbin of history, whether it be his other newspapers (such as La patrie en danger) or his vanguardist and authoritarian politics.
However, not everyone shares this view, to the point that some have even been trying to venerate this name that seemed given up for lost. This rediscovery has been driven by the most energetic and least rigid authoritarian subversives, skilled in the art of sniffing out the mood of the moment. In light of the ever more imminent disintegration of this society, of the constantly spreading flames of the riots, they realized that a coming insurrection, hidden just around the corner, was more likely (and also more desirable) than an electoral victory of the extreme left (which would be made responsible for managing a situation from which no outcome would be painless). Otherwise, they would have risked leaving the terrain open to those anarchist loudmouths, the only ones who had never abandoned insurrectionary perspectives, even during the grayest years of social pacification. These authoritarians also realized that the sinister ancestors of social criticism, their so-called “classics”, could be of no help to them, seeing as they had lost their luster long ago. After having erected altars to them for more than a century, after having made their thoughts luminous beacons in the midst of a revolutionary squall that ended in the most shameful of shipwrecks, their names no longer offer any guarantee. On the contrary, they provoke genuine allergic rejections. On the other hand, Blanqui, the forgotten one, this great representative of authoritarian insurrectionalism, presents all the characteristics needed to serve as an alternative historical reference: original, charismatic, up to the challenge of the coming era.
Let’s be honest, Marx, who warmed the armchairs of the British Museum by teaching surplus value or the subsumption of capital, and Lenin, working in a central committee to prepare the triumph of the party bureaucracy, are no longer very enticing. But Blanqui, my God, what a man! First of all, there is his life— responsible for numerous insurrectionary attempts, nicknamed “Enfermé” for having spent 33 years behind the walls of the French imperial prisons—which arouses an unconditional respect capable of silencing, or at least cushioning, any possible criticism. And then there’s also his explosive militant action, his incessant agitation, his ardent activism, combined with a simple and immediate language which expresses communist thought while resisting the cold Marxist economic tone. This is where his current force of attraction lies. With an absence of hindsight, in an era where everyone had to stay alert, if only to find alliances, Blanqui can be appreciated by everyone: by anti-authoritarians who are thirsty for action, as well as by authoritarians in need of discipline. If in his time he was somewhat snubbed by the scholars of scientific socialism (who recognized his good intentions but basically reproached him for having the same defects as Bakunin), and firmly opposed by the enemies of all authority, then today—as all good sense is eclipsed—he has all he needs to take revenge.
Blanqui was not only a persistent and fiery agitator (the anarchists faint with emotion), he was also a persistent and calculating leader (the orphans of state communism erupt in applause). He joined the courage of the barricades and fell to the martyrdom of imprisonment, his eye lost while scanning the firmament. He did not formulate great theoretical plans, sophisticated elaborations, unpalatable for today’s narrow tastes. He also gave his instructions for taking up arms. Blanqui did not elaborate deep reflections, because reflexes prepared in advance were enough for him. He is the perfect revolutionary icon for today’s market, now that no one wants to debate complex systems anymore. Today, we want intense emotions to consume. And Blanqui doesn’t bore us with abstract speeches; he’s a practical guy. Direct. Someone to listen to, from whom we all have to learn, and whom we can therefore trust. That’s why he was exhumed. That’s why, among the many incarnations of the revolutionary dictatorship, he is the only one who can pass for a fascinating adventurer rather than immediately revealing himself as a petty man of power. A century and a half late, Blanqui captures them all. If he had a Facebook account, he would be drowning in “likes.”
His revaluation is made even more appealing by his choice of tactics. Recently, has the working class been terrorizing the bourgeoisie, or has a smile rather blossomed on Marchionne’s face [CEO of Fiat since 2004]? Has the proletariat been fighting for its emancipation, or snitching on the wildest demonstrators? Have you been hearing the streets rumble with masses of insurgents heading for the presidential palace or rather masses of fans going to the stadium? Have you noticed how the exploited are more passionate about radical social criticism than the latest reality show? In his memoirs, Bartolomeo Vanzetti remembers his nightly hours spent poring over books, determinedly snatched from the restorative sleep of work fatigue. He was a worker, but he spent his free time studying: to understand, to know, to refuse to remain raw material trapped by the gears of capital (or by the dialectic of some intellectual). Today, the shadows under the eyes of workers have other causes. Those who want to participate in the ongoing social war must therefore take into account this obvious fact: the masses don’t care about revolution.
But it’s not a problem anymore, really, and you know why? Because Blanqui didn’t care about the masses. He didn’t need them. A lucid, capable, bold elite, ready to unleash a wellcalibrated blow at the opportune moment was enough for him. The masses, as usual, would have adapted to the fait accompli. In short, even in the midst of the current capitalist alienation, some people give us hope. The Leninists are outdated, not realizing that building a great party capable of guiding the exploited is no longer useful. The anarchists are also outdated, too stupid to realize that there is no longer enough consciousness to awaken the exploited and keep them from ending up in the hands of the parties. What we need is a handful of subversive conspirators capable of elaborating and applying the correct strategy. Then, in one stroke, the social question is solved! We must admit it — Blanqui is the right man, rediscovered at the right time by people who can only be right.
So right, in fact, that they are careful not to take Blanqui’s essential ideas, detestable in many aspects, into consideration. And they know it. His imaginary friends are so aware of it that they limit themselves to praising its power, its style, its feeling, its determination (all admirable qualities, no doubt, but they do not tell us much about the person who possesses them; Napoleon, Mussolini or bin Laden could also have boasted those same traits). As for his real friends, such as the communard Casimir Bouis, incidentally also his publisher, they had no doubts about the reason for Blanqui’s prestige: “He is the most accomplished man of State that the revolution possesses.” Yas, Blanquist power, Blanquist style, Blanquist feeling, Blanquist determination—all put in the service of a very specific political project: the conquest of power. Even his surprising treatise on astronomy, even his most accurate slogan, will never succeed in making us forget it. Who knows why, among all the good people who want to praise a conspirator of the past, a barricader, a persecuted person influential in the movement, no one thinks of Bakunin? Because if one remembers Bakunin as a demon of revolt, synonymous with absolute freedom, then Blanqui would be rather synonymous with dictatorship. Bakunin wished for “anarchy,” Blanqui proclaimed “regular anarchy” (isn’t that adjective adorable?). Bakunin invoked the “unleashing of bad passions,” Blanqui prescribed that “no military movement should take place except by order of the commander-in-chief, barricades should be erected only on the sites designated by him” (the selfappointed commander, it goes without saying, was him). Bakunin was looking for someone among the conspirators who was “fully convinced that the advent of freedom is incompatible with the existence of states. He must want for the destruction of all States at the same time as that of all the religious, political and social institutions, which includes: the official Churches, the permanent armies, the ministries, the universities, the banks, the aristocratic and bourgeois monopolies. This is so that on their ruins a free society may finally emerge, no longer organized as it is today from the top down and from the center to the periphery through unity and forced consolidation, but rather starting from the free individual, free association and the autonomous commune, from the bottom up and from the periphery to the center, through free federation.”
Blanqui was looking for someone whose answer the question “just after the revolution, will the people be able to govern themselves?” would be: “the social state being gangrenous, heroic remedies are necessary to pass to a healthy state. For some time, the people will need a revolutionary power.” This power would put immediate provisions into action like the “substitution of a [State] monopoly in the place of any expelled boss… Transfer to the State domain of all the movable and immovable goods of the churches, communities and congregations of both sexes, as well as their nominees…Reorganization of the personnel of the bureaucracy…Replacement of all direct or indirect contributions by a direct, progressive tax on inheritance and on income… government: Parisian dictatorship.”
If during the 19th century, Bakunin and Blanqui were not just two revolutionaries among many others, if their names acquired such a reputation, it is because they were the incarnation of two different and opposed ideas, because they represented the two possible faces of the insurrection for the whole world: the anarchist one against the State, and the authoritarian one in favor of a new State (first republican, then socialist, and finally communist).To feel close to one or the other, in itself, still unmistakably constitutes choosing a side.
For Blanqui, the State was the driving force of social transformation, since “the people can only emerge from serfdom with the impetus of the great society of the State, and it takes great courage to defend the contrary. Indeed, the State has no other legitimate mission.” Criticizing Proudhonian ideas, he argued that any theory that claimed to emancipate the proletariat without relying on the authority of the State seemed to him a chimera; worse, it was “perhaps” a betrayal. He was not so ingenuous as to make false impressions. He simply argued that “although all power is by nature oppressive,” to try to do without it or to oppose it would be like “convincing the proletarians that it would be easy to walk with hand and foot bound.” Those who try to claim their attempts to revalorize “Enfermé” are based only in their interest in the practice of insurrection, only a technical necessity that transcends any shared perspective, are deliberately lying (with the exception, of course, of any action fetishizing anarchists, who are barely even worth mentioning). If Blanqui was indeed looking for agreement “on the question of capital, I mean the practical means which, in the end, are the whole revolution,” he did not hide the link that unites action with thought: “The practical means are deduced from the principles and also depend on the evaluation of men and things.” One of his best-known texts, Instructions for Taking Up Arms, which continued to fascinate the many young intellectuals who were aspiring generals of a new Red Army after the Situationists, is not just a manual for insurgents. The journal Critique sociale had already published it in 1931 for a reason — not for its “strictly military and anachronistic side,” but to emphasize “the value of this important contribution to the critique of anarchic uprisings.” Indeed, these Instructions continually justify the need for an authority capable of putting an end to freedom that is considered counterproductive. It is the disgusted cry of a man of order at the sight of so much disorder: “small groups are disarming the corps de garde or seizing gunpowder and weapons from the armories. All this is done without coordination or direction, at the mercy of individual imagination.” This text is an indictment against “the shortcomings of the people’s tactics – the undoubted cause of our disasters. There was neither leadership nor any form of general command; there was not even unity amongst the combatants… the soldiers only do as they please.”
In short, if the insurrection is defeated despite the courage and enthusiasm of those who take part in it, it is because “organization is missing. Without organization, there is no possibility of success.” This seems obvious, but how does one obtain this organization, this coordination, this agreement between the insurgents? Through the horizontal, pre-emptive and widespread diffusion of an awareness, of understanding, of an intelligence of the necessities of the moment (anarchist hypothesis), or through the vertical establishment of a single command that demands the obedience of all, who are kept in ignorance until the necessary moment (authoritarian hypothesis?). Of course, Blanqui has his practical instructions to give in this matter: “A military organization, especially when it must be improvised on the battlefield, is no small matter for our party. It presupposes a command-in-chief and, to a certain extent, the usual series of officers of all ranks.”
In order to put an end to “these tumultuous uprisings, with ten thousand isolated individuals, acting randomly, in disorder, without any overall thought, each one in his corner and according to his fancy,” Blanqui does not cease to provide his recipe: “Again, it must be repeated: organization, unity, order and discipline are the sine qua non conditions of victory. Troops are unlikely to resist an insurrection that is organized and acting by means of the whole apparatus characteristic of the government’s own forces for long.” This is the Blanquist practice of insurrection: an organization without pity for the enemy, but which knows how to impose internal order and discipline, on the model of the apparatus of a government force.
For us, this stench of the barracks provokes only horror and disgust. Even if a red or red and black flag were to fly over it, it would still be a place of repression and stupefaction. An insurrection that, instead of developing in freedom at full throttle stands at attention before an authority, would be lost in advance. It would become the mere vestibule of a coup d’état. Against this gloomy possibility, one can fortunately always trust the intoxicating pleasure of revolt which, once it explodes, is able to send all the calculations of these strategists into disarray.
Maurice Dommanget, who dedicated a lifetime of devotion to Blanqui, recounts the atmosphere in Paris during the attempted insurrection of May 12, 1839: “Blanqui was trying to give orders, to prevent the desertions that were beginning, to “want to organize the crowd,” a difficult task, given that almost no one knew him. All shouted. All wanted to command. And nobody obeyed. It was then that a rather lively and symptomatic argument occurred between Barbès and Blanqui, which no one has reported until now. Barbès accused Blanqui of having let them all down, Blanqui accused Barbès of having discouraged everyone with his slowness, and provoked the departure of the faint-hearted and the traitors.” When insurrection breaks out, when normality unexpectedly ceases to restrain human possibilities, when all want to command because none want to obey anymore, the so-called leaders lose all authority, rush uselessly to give orders, and fall to arguing among themselves. The disorder of passions has been and will always be the best and most effective antidote to political order.
Perhaps the best way to understand the abyss that separates the authoritarian conception of insurrectionary action from the anti-authoritarian one is to put them face to face in the same period, within the same historical context. Nothing is more instructive in this regard than a comparison between Blanqui and Joseph Déjacque, the French anarchist banished after having participated in the days of 1848. What is Blanqui’s famous organizational model? A pyramidal structure, rigidly hierarchical, like his Society of Seasons which preceded the insurrectionary attempt of May 1839: its base component was the week (composed of six members and subject to a Sunday); four weeks formed a month (at the orders of a July); three months formed a season (directed by a spring); four seasons formed a year (commanded by a revolutionary agent). And these revolutionary agents together constituted a secret executive committee, unknown to the other affiliates, whose general could only be Blanqui. At the crucial moment, when the insurrection was finally decreed, the committee of the Society of the Seasons broadcast a call to the people, in which it communicated that “the provisional government has chosen military leaders to lead the struggle: these leaders come from your ranks; follow them, they will lead you to victory. They are named: Auguste Blanqui, commander in chief…” The experiences that followed did not make him change his mind, as demonstrated by the publication of the Instructions for Taking Up Arms in 1868, the Central Republican Society of 1848 or the Phalange and its clandestine groups of struggle in 1870. All his life, Blanqui never stopped plotting against the government in power, but always in a militaristic, hierarchical and centralizing way, always with the aim of establishing a public safety committee at the head of the State.
In contrast, Déjacque evoked in his notes to the Revolutionary Question (1854) the possibility and the urgency of going on the attack with secret societies, inciting the creation of small autonomous groups: “that every revolutionary choose, among those whom he believes he can best count on, one or two other proletarians like himself. And that all of them—in groups of three or four, not linked to each other and operating in isolation, so that the discovery of one of the groups does not lead to the arrest of the others—act with the shared goal of destroying the old society”. In the same way, in the pages of his newspaper Le Libertaire (1858), he recalled how, thanks to the meeting between the subversives and the dangerous classes, “the social war takes on daily and universal proportions…We, the plebeians of the workshops, complete ourselves with a new element, the plebeians of the prisons…Each one of us will be able to continue to make rebellion according to his aptitudes.”
Where Blanqui “invited” the people to remain a mass to maneuver, manage, discipline and keep obedient to the orders of its self-proclaimed leaders, Déjacque addressed himself to each proletarian to push them to liberating action, on the basis of their own capacities and aptitudes and with their closest accomplices. It is therefore not surprising that the same Déjacque underscored Blanqui’s dictatorial aspirations: “Governmental authority, the dictatorship, whether it is called empire or republic, throne or armchair, savior of order or committee of public safety; whether it exists today under the name of Bonaparte or tomorrow under the name of Blanqui; whether it comes out of Ham or BelleIle; whether it has in its insignia an eagle or a stuffed lion… the dictatorship is nothing but the rape of liberty by corrupted syphilitic virility.”
Here again, to feel close to one or the other is not irrelevant, and constitutes choosing an unmistakable side.
Finally, there is one last aspect of Blanqui that, to the keen eye, may have seemed worth dusting off — his opportunism. Displaying a certain disinterest in theoretical questions and a strong attachment to the exclusively material problems of insurrection, Blanqui pioneered a trend that is now rather fashionable in subversive circles: tacticalism (the unscrupulous use of maneuvers or expedients to obtain from others what one desires) in the name of tactics (the technique of using and maneuvering military means). Blanqui admirers generally use the term eclecticism to describe his skillful and self-interested changes of position. His conception of insurrection as the result of a strategic movement and not as a social event led him to conclude that the end justified any means. For him, it was not the method that counted, but the result, that is, the effective conquest of political power. That is why, despite his taste for conspiracies, in 1848 he tried to lead a democratic movement to participate in elections. As his comrade Edouard Vaillant, his spokesman at the congress of the First International in London in September 1871, recalled: “The work of the revolution was the destruction of the obstacles that obstructed the way: its first duty was to “disarm the bourgeoisie, to arm the proletariat,” to arm the proletariat with all the forces of the political power conquered, taken from the enemy. In order to achieve this goal, the revolutionaries had to attack the power, to march against it on all the paths: agitation, action, parliament, etc. They did not lock themselves in the “model prison” of any dogmatism. They have no prejudices.”
This absence of “prejudices”—which at the time, beyond any ethical coherence, were at least intuitions guided by a minimum of intelligence—led Blanqui to sometimes embarrassing results. In 1879, a few years after having thundered that “the disastrous influence of the deliberating assemblies must end,” he tried, without succeeding, to be elected deputy of Lyon. To realize this laudable insurrectionary project, he asked for help from his friend Georges Clémenceau, then a radical deputy, to whom he wrote: “Become in the House the man of the future, the leader of the revolution. It has not been able to find one since 1830. Fortune gives it one, do not take it away.” As everyone knows by now, Clémenceau did indeed go on to have a great career, becoming first a senator, then Minister of the Interior, and twice President of the Council. He earned the nickname of “France’s top cop” through bloody repression of strikes and revolts that culminated in several massacres of proletarians, through merciless hunting of subversives of all stripes, not to mention his interventionism during the First World War. One cannot say that Blanqui was very clear-sighted when he asked the future leader of the reaction to become the leader of the revolution! But ultimately, it isn’t so strange. He had seen in Clémenceau the makings of a political leader, of a condottiere. He could not understand that power is the tomb of the revolution.
That is why we have no reason to pay homage to the corpse of this aspiring dictator. Beyond perhaps a slogan and a book, his memory continues to reek. Stinking like his general staff, his military style, his barrack spirit (“his friends were convinced that the dominant personality in him was that of a general,” wrote the good Dommanget). Let his admirers, old or new leaders of the party of Statist insurrection, go and dig in his grave, emotionally breathe the stench. With the recent earthquakes, who knows, maybe they will end up buried by their Master’s side—an eternity in the mud.
Blanqui in Venaus
Translated from Finimondo, 2014
“Politics is the art of recuperation. The most effective way to discourage all rebellion, all desire for real change, is to present a man or woman of state as subversive, or—better yet—to transform a subversive into a man or woman of state. Not all people of state are paid by the government. There are functionaries who are not found in parliament or even in the neighboring rooms. Rather, they frequent the social centers and sufficiently know the principle revolutionary theories. They debate over the liberatory potential of technology; they theorize about non-state public spheres and the surpassing of the subject. Reality—they know it well—is always more complex than any action.”
— Ten Blows Against Politics, 1996
For some time, a rumor has been circulating among some anarchists in Europe about the latest publication of the Invisible Committee, the authors of the 2007 international bestseller The Coming Insurrection. It is rumored that the Committee’s members shared the draft of the text with their political friends around the world, to gauge their reactions and to solicit useful feedback. The first draft contained a harsh attack on anarchists, guilty of not properly prostrating themselves before them (and of having scoffed at the farce of Tarnac, where, when the police came knocking, the alleged authors of the book rushed into the protective arms of the left they had been at war with the day earlier). But some of their friendly correspondents—from our beautiful country, it is said—suggested that they cut the overly vehement parts, soften the tone, because ultimately, with some reflection, there are still many services that these anarchist idiots can render. This rumor originated with a mischievous anarchist who apparently may have read the original draft of the text as well as the correspondence about it. These are the risks of the Commune and sharing tools: you never know who might peek at a computer left on and unattended!
Whether this rumor is true or not, a few days ago we were given the gift of the Invisible Committee’s new book, fresh off the press, published in France at the end of last month. It’s called To Our Friends (political ones, it goes without saying) and its imminent and simultaneous publication in seven other languages is in the works to promote its diffusion on the four continents. Italy will be one of the lucky countries, so we might as well wait to read the full translation.
But then, you may ask, why are we talking about it here and now? Because thanks to the lessons of the Invisible Committee, we finally understand that advertising is not only the soul of business, but also the soul of subversion (well, the business of subversion). Moreover, we would risk being mistaken for state bureaucrats if we didn’t hurry up and share at least a few excerpts from this new masterpiece with our readers. Anyway, here’s a preview, a scoop of sorts.
Choosing which part to share is easy, too easy even. These grandchildren of Blanqui devote some thoughts to Italy, more precisely to the struggle against the TAV in the Susa Valley and its miraculous effects. Here is what they write: “Among the miracles of the Susa Valley struggle, one has to include the way it succeeded in tearing a good number of radicals away from their painfully constructed identity. It brought them back down to earth. In contact again with a real situation, they were able to shed most of their ideological spacesuit—not without incurring the inexhaustible resentment of those still confined in their interstellar radicality where breathing is such a problem. [...]. Alternating family-style demonstrations with attacks on the TAV construction site, resorting to sabotage at one moment and partnership with the valley’s mayors the next, associating anarchists and Catholic grandmas, this struggle is revolutionary at least insofar as it has been able to deactivate the infernal coupling of pacifism and radicalism.”
Absolutely! As nice political animals, Blanqui’s grandchildren think that the most natural and spontaneous environment to live in is the zoo. Those who do not enter the zoo or stay far away condemn themselves to isolation, that is, to breathing the stale air of a spacesuit, demonstrating an untiring resentment against those who easily breathe the same air as mayors and parliamentarians (and perhaps even as snitches and various dissociati). The Invisible Committee’s admiration of their Italian anarchist apprentices is almost touching, these Victor Serge’s of ours who have finally understood the strategic usefulness of an alternating current of conflictuality, dear to authoritarians since time immemorial. What a pity that “a fraction of the anarchists who declare themselves “nihilists”” and that in reality “are only powerless” also pollutes this coveted air. Anarchists who identify the enemy, give themselves means and attack… brrr, what a horror, they are nothing but powerless, obviously. On the other hand, those who get involved with mayors, priests and stalinists, those who get elected to the city council like Tarnac superfans of the Invisible Committee, of course, those people have… Those people have what? They have understood how things work! “There is no Esperanto of revolt. It’s not up to the rebels to learn to speak anarchist; it’s up to the anarchists to become polyglot.” Esperanto is a foolish utopia, this new language which contains elements of all languages, encompassing them without preference and putting them in communication while respecting their diversity. The most practical, immediate, strategic way to communicate is to speak the language of others. English especially, in business. Authoritarian only, in politics.
Anarchists, be polyglot! Stop meowing all alone in a ghost town, bark and growl in the company of dogs and pigs! On Monday speak humanitarian, on Tuesday democratic, on Wednesday journalist, on Thursday syndicalist, on Friday legalist, on Saturday communist, on Sunday—amen—liturgical. And occasionally, speak rebel if you want. As for the anarchist language, it is better to forget it entirely.
In any case, let’s be honest, what use is it to you?
The Death of Rémi and Confrontations: The Radical Recuperators Come Out of the Woodwork
Translated from the Internet, 2014
“Our strength won’t come from our naming of the enemy, but from the effort made to enter one another’s geography.”
— To Our Friends, Invisible Committee
Mathieu Burnel, co-defendant in the Tarnac affair, was in good company on October 31 on the set of “Ce soir ou jamais,” a program broadcast by one of the official spokespersons for state terrorism, the France 2 channel. At a time when clashes had been taking place daily in several cities for nearly a week following the police killing of a demonstrator in the struggle against the Sivens dam, the beginning of a dialogue between “a representative of the radicals” and representatives of the authorities was finally possible. Blessed, then, are all those citizens who continue to conscientiously pay their dues so that the public service channel can accomplish its sacred duty of maintaining order (of which dialogue between the dominated and the dominant is an integral part) when the situation is at its most dire. Because without representatives, there are no more represented, and without the represented, there is anarchy! In order to stock the shelves of the great supermarket of televised opinions, Mathieu Burnel used his best tricks to compete with Juliette Meadel, national secretary of the Socialist Party for industrial policy, Corinne Lepage, European deputy of the Democrat Movement party, and Pascal Bruckner, a reactionary philosopher.
On the theme of “Ecology, the new battlefield?” he once again demonstrated the practical consequences of the words “to make our power grow” or “not to designate the enemy but to compose with him.” Faced with potentially uncontrollable situations, power regularly needs interlocutors, even aggressive ones, as we are reminded by Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s appearance on the ORTF on May 16, 1968, after the beginning of the general strike. And if, as an old bearded man dear to the authoritarians remarked, history often repeats itself in the form of farce, it is because power only gets the buffoons it deserves. October 2014 is obviously not May 1968 (“Fuck May 68, Fight now!” said a tag on the walls of Athens in 2009), but not everyone has the lucidity to wait for an uprising before rushing onto TV to try to take the lead. Unless the insurrection has already come, of course!
Speaking for each and every one of us — for “our generation,” for Rémi Fraisse (who would have been part of “those people who try to take seriously at least the question of their existence”) and for “young people today” — the recuperator on duty claims to embody this rage of a thousand faces. After radio and TV appearances with his colleagues Benjamin Rosoux (the city councilor of Tarnac since March 2014) or Julien Coupat (who invited nine journalists to interview him over the course of four hours in November 2012), this time he was not there to defend himself against the accusations of the police, but to sell his party of the “insurrection that has come”!
“The idea of using the media niches that power concedes to revolutionaries to our advantage is not only illusory. It is frankly dangerous. Their mere presence on the stage is not enough to break the straitjacket of ideology in the heads of the audience. Unless one confuses the power of expression with the power of transformation, and believes that the meaning of what one expresses, with the word, with the pen, with the image, etc., is given a priori, without having to worry about knowing who has the power to do it. There would be content which could exist there in diverse forms without being affected by it. This is the old illusion of the reified world in which activities appear as things in themselves detached from society. But just like other forms of expression, the subversive form that language takes is the guarantee of the incorruptibility of its meaning. It is not immune to the dangers of communication. Using subversive language on the terrain of domination is sufficient to undermine, or even reverse, the meaning of it.”
— “The mirror of illusions, notes of discussions from the side of La Bonne Descente” (Paris), 1996
Intervening in the media with the old Leninist argument (about Parliament) of using it as a platform not only reinforces the legitimacy of these tools of domination, but also endorses the democratic game that establishes a basis of dialogue rather than confrontation. “You don’t argue with the enemy, you fight him” is an adage from the revolutionary experience, but it only applies to those who really intend to abolish all authority. For the others — starting with the politicians of the “movement” — it is certain that sooner or later one must show tact, know how to compromise in improbable “alliances”, “to compose with what exists where one is,” which is to say, to adapt to the existent rather than to subvert it. Accepting the rules of the game rather than messing up the game itself. This dynamic, which we have seen in recent years in Val Susa, Valognes and Notre-Dame-des-Landes, for example, after the confrontations that pushed the cops back, is not new. We have known for a long time that not all politicians sit in Parliament but also emerge from struggles, and that the conquest of power (or of hegemony) sometimes takes side roads.
Refusing the mechanisms of politics—of which recuperation and representation are an integral part—is not a matter of principle, but one of the conditions for truly experiencing autonomy and self-organization. Only the dialogue of those in revolt will be able to overcome the organized confusion, among themselves in a space of anti-authoritarian struggle where words and their meaning are not mutilated by the needs of control and the consensus of power. It is there, far from any representation, that ideas with neither masters nor owners, ideas that animate us, can at last belong to anyone who recognizes themselves in them.
The enemies of order
Decisions, Compositions, Negotiations
Translated from a chapter of Hourriya #6: The War of the
Underground, The Battlefield of Raw Materials, 2021
There are many ways to envision and carry out a struggle against a devastating project.
Some struggles that are motivated by an anarchist perspective are informed by the clear proposal of attempting to prevent the construction of a specific infrastructure through selforganization, direct action and permanent conflict. This method, which concretely implies the refusal of political and media representation, of mechanisms of delegation, and of any dialogue with institutions, clearly connects means and ends: a project of domination cannot be fought with the instruments of domination. From these foundations and by unambiguously establishing an offensive and destructive approach, the proposal of struggle is addressed to all those who recognize themselves in it and wish to take it on, in their own way, obviously at the site but also wherever else it makes sense.
The wager on hostilities spreading is also a wager on the multiplication of points of encounter and self-organization, enabling the weaving of complicity and the development of solidarity in the heat of the struggle. The potential that coordination offers exists thanks to the free association of diverse initiatives and individual intentions.
Of course, informal organization is not a magic formula that guarantees decision-making free of issues, power dynamics, and questions of legitimacy. Nevertheless, the autonomy of each individual or group, none of which can claim to represent the struggle, let alone take the lead, can at least make it possible to confront these problems in a direct and decentralized way.
It is quite different when a struggle builds itself around a single territorial focal point, for example, an occupation linked to the contested project, and this becomes the main point of reference. This raises the question of the centralization of decision-making and activities. Indeed, long-term occupations often involve the mobilization of a large number of people, to keep the occupation alive and to ensure its defense. This often has the consequence that these occupations become the starting points of “large moments” or actions, if not for a mass, at least relying greatly on a quantitative dimension.
In such situations, when it is out of the question to defer to the leadership of some central committee, collective organization usually takes place through assemblies. Even if care is taken to distinguish between assemblies concerned with the organization of the site and assemblies concerned with the struggle, the fact that the two aspects are intertwined does not fail to bring up questions of legitimacy tied to the dynamic of territory and the occupation as a whole (the moment of arrival, one’s longevity and “degrees” of involvement on the site, the potential repercussions of certain activities on others and on the site itself, etc.).
When they are for decision-making, assemblies share the trait that they are supposed to both represent and engage all participants. Without going into detail about the various mechanisms that can quickly be set in motion, in the name of efficiency, to obtain a more or less forced majority or a consensus, we will say that the decisions that emerge from these spaces clearly take on a particular weight. Participants, then, expect the weight of these decisions to be applied even to people in the struggle who do not agree with them. It is not uncommon for the centrality of the assembly of an occupation site to put itself in the position of the representative or spokesperson of the struggle as a whole. For example, when self-organized media claims to give an account of the multiform reality of the struggle but essentially reflects the perspectives or the activities decided on by the assembly, and remains silent about other manifestations because they do not fit into this framework.
None of these questions are abstract, and their implications are all the more striking in the case of struggles strictly tied to a territorial base which bring together motivations, methods and perspectives that are sometimes very heterogeneous. This brings us back to the old theory of “common fronts,” even if high-flying strategists, perhaps considering this concept to be out of fashion, too obviously tainted with reformism or tarnished with the bitter Stalinist associations of revolutionary history, have decided to replace it with the term “composition.”
The theory nevertheless remains the same: in the classic relationship of “force against force,” it is well known that “it is unity that creates force.” The question, then, is how to make opposing logics coexist in the name of a common objective, in this case stopping the construction of an infrastructure project at a given location. Behind the lengthy euphemism of the “diversity of tactics of the different components of the struggle” hide politician-like alliances and tactical maneuvers intended to mask and dilute fundamental disagreements on questions as crucial as relationship to legality and institutions (parties, unions, media, etc.), the use of violence and willingness to negotiate, the reformist approach or positions that completely break with the existent.
It goes without saying that this “strategic” coexistence is based on both sides’ desire for instrumentalization. For example, legalists rely on the radical workforce to establish a balance of power likely to open up negotiations, while others imagine that they can count on the left to “give cover” to certain actions or to rally so-called “civil society”. In reality, this vast program generally results in the citizens’ movement condemning actions that are too offensive for their taste. Or, in a mirror effect, actions with a radical appearance are actually deprived of this substance by being put at the service of reformist aims.
In any case, the supporters of composition make a point of maintaining this facade of unity, whether in common activities (such as unitary demonstrations including a part of the political spectrum, for example) or in the wider panorama of the struggle. Beyond the deliberate blurring this entails, it means controlling the forms of struggle in order to hold it all together at any cost, determining what is opportune to bring forward, what should and shouldn’t be done. So “respecting the timing of the movement” is an argument-bludgeon wielded by authoritarians to enforce the lines that they see fit to define in the name of “the common interest,” from the height of their position of power. These are the authoritarians who, with their intermediaries, have smothered the possibilities opened up on the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes and beyond, in the struggle against the airport and its world, not hesitating to try to take the course of certain demonstrations into their own hands, to label certain attacks (against journalists, security guards, certain political parties) as “counterproductive,” to suffocate the subversive content and offensive perspectives that were aimed at those who actually participate in the development of domination, beyond the airport.
Other texts explain in detail, and much better than this one, the mechanisms that have all too often enabled this so-called “all together” logic to impose itself over time by crushing those who are undesirable and unmanageable to this world. The famous label of “victory” at the ZAD, brandished by the promoters of composition and the co-management of land-use and the struggle, was achieved by the CMDO and co. taking charge (through intimidation and beatings). This resulted in the disastrous outcome we know: forced legalization and the compliance of almost the entire zone to the required standards. Far from defending “counter-worlds” and other “liberated zones,” like their predecessors on Larzac, the “victorious” are bogged down in negotiations on the price to be paid for the land, with everything under state control from top to bottom.
Though they hide their game under radical clothes, the composers and their friends unfortunately do not have a monopoly on negotiations, and one of the strategies of Power in our latitudes consists of recuperating and integrating any opposition by conceding a few crumbs or niches. Of course, reformism is certainly not the exclusive domain of struggles against profoundly toxic projects, but it is without question that a myriad of alternatives has developed around the environmental question.
Ecological crisis, global warming, saving the planet, are in the spirit of the times and on the agenda. No longer able to deny the devastating effects of industrial and technological society, which is never referred to as such since the concern is mainly ensuring its perpetuation and expansion, the powerful are trying to make the most of the situation at the greatest profit. So, the States and their experts continue to sell their technical, scientific and profitable solutions to the problems they keep creating. Gas and seawater desalination plants, CO2 collectors, geothermal energy, bio-mass, bio-fuels and so on are all new niches for the sustainable development of green-tinted capitalism. And the lie of the energy “transition” encompasses the conversion of huge industrial sectors and investments into the renewable energy market, in parallel to energy industries that already exist. However, ecological deception has also flourished on the inability of struggles against harmful, authoritarian developments to bring other ideas and perspectives to the fore. In the 1980s, in parallel with repression in all its crudeness—the army was regularly sent in to try to quell anti-nuclear protest movements—the French state set up another tool to neutralize dissent. This apparatus has greatly contributed to channeling and defusing the struggle, against a background of faith in the promises of the left.
Citizen and environmental associations have since invaded the landscape to propose their services as credible interlocutors with Power, as well as alternatives that do not question the existing framework, which is de facto perceived and positioned as insurmountable.
The logic of negotiation also takes more diffuse forms. Pragmatists may seek to take advantage of the balance of power established by the struggle to get money in exchange for implementing a project, for example by receiving compensation for environmental harm (additional income for the district, compensation for the inhabitants, etc.). In another style, the land manager may take up the principle of zoning to claim the preservation of a place as a wetland “zone” with “remarkable biodiversity” etc., or even “offset” zones as if everything were interchangeable.
According to the realistic logic of the “lesser evil,” others find themselves either demanding that those responsible for the devastation mitigate or control its effects (for example, by promises to reduce polluting emissions), or proposing, through and within the struggle itself, alternative projects deemed more acceptable: another highway or high-speed train line route, the burial of high-voltage lines, other waste storage sites, etc.
The refusal to accept plans for the burial of radioactive waste at the end of the 1980s led to the 1990 moratorium. However, the problem was only postponed by the suggestion of storing radioactive waste on the site where it was produced as a last resort, since the current accumulation of waste allows them to play up the urgent need to find a solution, especially at Bure. To avoid leaving room for any alternative solution and to avoid entering the domain of managing existing waste, there is obviously no other choice than to reject what produces it en masse: nuclear power in all its forms and the society that needs it. Even if it means being called irresponsible in the face of the State, its dictates, and its regime of reason
Likewise, to thwart the pacification and recuperation of conflicts, it is essential to make clarifications and lines of rupture that constantly restate the question of means and ends. The struggle against the destructive aims of the State cannot be carried out by co-management, by legal battles, or by any recourse to a supposed “public opinion” that is a spectator or arbitrator. Control over spaces and lives is not fought by creating more norms and regulations, any more than the projects and infrastructure of domination are challenged by convincing decision-makers. Opposing the established order leads to confronting its repressive forces but also its logic, and fighting the system also means exacerbating its instability.
Here Lies a Corpse
Translated from Avis de Tempêtes (Storm Warnings), #3, 2018
After years of struggle, on January 17, 2018 the French state officially announced that they were abandoning their project to build a new airport on the site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in favor of expanding the existing one on the outskirts of Nantes. We were finally going to see the full scope of the famous “and its world,” which had been brandished as a reassuring and almost self-fulfilling totem within the struggle, an idea meant to prevent the struggle from being reduced to simple territorial defense, instead nourishing a critique against everything that would allow a nuisance such as the proposed airport to exist in the first place. Would the occupiers continue their fight by extending it to the new designated site, in the name of Neither Here Nor Elsewhere? Would they extend it to other large-scale nuisances, such as those linked to Nantes and its suburbs (Technocampus Alimentation, ‘zone to construct’ of Pirmil-Les Isles, a new prison being built in Bouguenais, 95 video surveillance cameras being installed with the creation of an Urban Supervision Center linking Nantes, Rezé and Vertou…), or the mega-project of 80 offshore wind turbines near Saint-Nazaire? It is certainly still too early to imagine what new horizons of struggle will be embraced, so vast is the “and its world,” but what we do already know is how the victory was celebrated on the ground.
From January 22 to 25, at the express request of the State, which had established this as a prerequisite for continuing negotiations on the future of the occupied land, the citizenist and authoritarian ‘composition’ of the ZAD began to clear the road that crosses the zone of its protective barriers, but also forcibly removed the two collective shacks that were encroaching onto the road a little too much. Having done their dirty work of maintaining order against the inhabitants who had settled there or were using the shacks, they returned control of the D281 to the authorities — a curious practice of self-management for a “liberated territory” — so that the latter could clear the ditches and drain the field entrances under protection of their escort, and also parade the prefect politician in front of the cameras.
The support committees, on permanent watch since Operation Caesar in 2012, had sworn, spat and even planted symbolic sticks in the ground so that if the shacks were forcibly evicted or the cops arrived on the ZAD, the fight would be on. Sure, but for the existence of a little clause in body 6 at the very bottom of the collective road map, which stipulated that the alarm would only sound if the uniforms were blue, not yellow or black windbreakers. For it is indeed a collection of philo-statist groups, of Leninist troops and adherents of a (not so) imaginary party who cleared the way for a new police occupation that has been going on for six weeks now (up to 30 mobile police vans), with video recording, identity controls, harassment and surveillance via drone, searches of vehicles and living spaces, all in the heart of the ZAD.
When authorities on both sides of the barricade attempted to co-manage the zone, a price had to be paid: the destruction of the shacks of those zadists who were too rebellious against the State dictates and the injunctions of the small entrepreneurs of the struggle. This was not a banal episode of internal conflict, but instead calls for a few reflections on the question of selforganization and its perspectives.
One of the classic problems that arises in any occupation struggle is that of its very project; the tension between an ephemeral occupation intended to self-organize attacks on the surrounding world in the midst of a thousand other decentralized initiatives, and a permanent installation that ends up concentrating forces that are ordinarily incompatible, by projecting itself as an experimental island of more or less radical alternatives. Sooner or later, this untenable contradiction between alternative within and offensive against the existent ends up bursting open, either when the police pressure increases (with the traditional mediatization of some distancing themselves from attacks and denouncing radicals), or conversely under the weight of the negotiated possibility of normalization (with the traditional clearing out of uncontrolled elements).
What is remarkable about recent events in the struggle at Notre-Dame-des-Landes is not so much that the citizenists did not even wait a week to literally toast with the prefect and the army general director of the entire gendarmerie, but that it was precisely the staunch partisans of composition with everyone who just the day before zealously partook in destroying one of the two shacks and evicting its occupants from the roof. When composition means negotiating with the state alongside trade unions and elected officials, when composition means choosing the side of order at a crucial moment of the struggle when those in the minority resistant any legalization, this only reveals the true meaning of this elastic word: collaboration with the power in charge. This kind of de facto convergence between power and counter-power, between constituents and destituents, is not the simple result of an emergency or panic situation, but the consequence of a logic present in the very concept of composition. Allowing authoritarians of all stripes to arrange things among themselves when necessary, it naturally also works at the expense of anti-authoritarians whose qualms are too demanding and not realpolitik enough.
Structurally, the concept of composition is in fact nothing more than the internal application of the military principle of alliance with the outside. If the latter applies between enemies who were irreconcilable yesterday and who will be at war again tomorrow, the former concerns adversaries within the same camp, capable of cohabiting without destroying or excluding each other by putting aside their opposing visions in order to temporarily concentrate their forces in the face of a common enemy. In both cases, this presupposes a remarkable capacity to eradicate the uniqueness of each individual and the singularity of their ideas, as well as the multiplicity of their possible associations, in order to train varied troops so that they march in lockstep in the service of a superior entity (the party, the assembly, the collective, the people, the movement of struggle).
Beyond the question of whether so-and-so is likable or not, composition is a logic that fundamentally banishes all ethics in favor of the calculations of politics. It is an alternative management technique of order and the organization of confusion that attempts to neutralize the irreducible antagonisms which can smolder within struggles: between the adjustment of the existent or its destruction, between negotiation with power or direct action against it, between scientific counterexpertise or refusal of specialization such as delegation, between acceptance of parties and trade unions or self-organization without mediation, between the presence of journalists or the refusal of any representation, between authority or freedom. It is therefore probably no coincidence that the mode of composition suits authoritarians particularly well, with their quantitative notion of a concentrated and more maneuverable force rather than a disseminated and more autonomous one, with their tactical sense of keeping up with changing winds, and above all with their obsession with decoupling means from ends (which explains, for example, their lack of scruples concerning using professionals of mass lying to deliver their message; their ease in declaring one thing in front of the courts and its opposite in front of their supporters; or their competence at making contact with the institutional left). In this logic of accountants, it is no longer a question of defending autonomous perspectives and subversive ideas here and now by incarnating them in one’s own life, but only of strategic situations to be organized and managed, indeed to be disciplined and made governable, in the name of the efficiency of the struggle, to which a few necessarily enlightened beings hold the keys. In this logic of majority decisions, tactical compromises and superior commons, there is, of course, even less thought of vast constellations of affinity groups self-organized in an informal way, giving force a qualitative and dissonant dimension. This dimension is capable of fully expressing the famous “and its world” from an anarchist perspective, with, on the one hand, a revolutionary critique that tries to encompass everything that allows the project being fought against to exist, and, on the other hand, a methodology that nourishes hostilities so that from the initial framework of the struggle—a particular project of power—insurrectionary moments can explode that go beyond it.
Despite the influx of victorious communiqués promising the entry of the occupied lands into the straightjacket of the law, no one can forget that from the offensive beginnings of the struggle, many attacks and acts of sabotage have flourished against the world of the airport (not to mention the dozens of solidarity actions elsewhere or the periods of confrontation with the police).
This was the case with the opposition to the preliminary works (staking and geotechnical drilling, construction of access roads) and the bailiffs as early as 2010; with the occupation-ransack of part of the current Nantes Atlantique airport in Bouguenais in July 2011; with the sabotage of the construction site for the extension of the Sautron/Vigneux-de-Bretagne dual highway in May 2012; with the burning of train equipment in Nort-surErdre in November 2012; with the arson of the Vinci security guard’s car in Fay-de-Bretagne in November 2012; with the sabotage of seven electric poles with a sledgehammer on the route of the future road corridor in March 2013; with the sabotage of the mobile telephone relay station in Vigneux-deBretagne on three occasions in July, September and October 2014; and with the ransacking of the Total station in Templede-Bretagne in February 2016. More recently, these possibilities have also spread their wings to attack biologists (who came to study the marbled newt in Vigneux-de-Bretagne, in April 2015), local collaborators (the shed and straw storage of a hostile farmer burned down in Vigneux-de-Bretagne in November 2012, the family house of the Lamisse couple which was ransacked in January 2016 at Notre-Dame-des-Landes), journacops (cars of France 3 smashed with iron bars in October 2016), and politicians (cars of France Bleu Loire Océan and Mélenchon soiled with shit in March 2017).
Reformism is undoubtedly the best option for arranging niches within the existent, and the partisans of alternate conflictuality have a historical head start in terms of the integration and recuperation of struggles. As for the others, there is still a whole world to be attacked, in which autonomous and affinitybased possibilities remain alive, experimented with to the great displeasure of the leaders of composition and their allies in the struggle against this airport.
At Notre-Dame-des-Landes lies a corpse: that of a proper composition that has definitively made clear, once it has been put up against the wall, both with whom (the State) and against whom (the uncontrolled) it wishes to build its opportunistic little world. Also, we know what the price is for letting the more or less visibly organized authoritarians do their politicking in peace. This is good news, because the increasingly unbearable smell of this corpse opens up a thousand other paths. Towards freedom in action, this time.
By Julien Coupat, Adrian Wohlleben, Hugh Farrell, and other Imaginary Friends
NO ONE CAN DENY
The Arctic is melting, Japanese teenagers refuse to have sex, a private company wants to build a colony on Mars, Europe is being looted by hooded protestors, and humans may be extinct by the end of the century
Meanwhile, glaciers melt, wildfires rage, Hurricane Whatever drowns another city. Ancient plagues reemerge from thawing permafrost
A government that declares a state of emergency against fifteenyear-old kids. A country that takes refuge in the arms of a football team. A cop in a hospital bed, complaining about being the victim of “violence.” A city councilwoman issuing a decree against the building of tree houses. Two ten year olds, in Chelles, charged with burning down a video game arcade.
the Tunisia of Ben Ali, the busy Turkey of Erdogan, socialdemocratic Sweden, Ba’athist Syria, Quebec on tranquilizers, or the Brazil of beaches, the Bolsa Familia, and peace-keeping police units
Every oil spill, every sterile plain, every species extinction With every destructive earthquake, every economic crash and every “terrorist attack” the sphere of “economy,” of domestic management, “survival,” “reproduction,” “daily routine,” and “labor”
Writing, accounting, History, royal justice, parliament, integrated farming, science, measurement, political religion, palace intrigues and pastoral power
The digitized voices making announcements, tramways with such a 21st century whistle, bluish streetlamps shaped like giant matchsticks, pedestrians done up like failed fashion models, the silent rotation of a video surveillance camera, the lucid clicking of the subway turnstiles supermarket checkouts, office time clocks, the electronic ambiance of the cyber café, the profusion of plasma screens, express lanes and latex.
Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece, Italy, the United States, Libya,
Syria, France, Chile, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, Bosnia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and beyond the occupation of plazas and buildings, flaming barricades, the reappropriation and automatic communization of food and clothing, masked demonstrations, molotov cocktails, street clinics, information hacking and leaks, highway blockades, and strikes
Popular kitchens, supplies, street medicine, illegal takeovers, the construction of emergency housing
the whole seamy mass of lay-abouts, liars, witches, madmen, scoundrels and all the other vagrant poor, terrorists, migrants, endocrine disruptors, fascism, unemployment.
anarchist, environmentalist, Marxist, socialist
FIND EACH OTHER
hacker collectives, urban farmers, DIY art spaces, crisis cults, and everyday hustlers
thousands of activists, dog walkers, punk rockers, parents, dancers, scientists, students, doctors, campers, schoolchildren, ecologists, tree-sitters, saboteurs, lawyers, documentarians, and neighbors birdwatchers, ravers, academics, activists, history buffs, punks, tenderqueers, carpenters
engineers, farmers, computer scientists, permaculture experts, listeners, singers, thieves, nurses, historians, visionaries, carpenters, plumbers, and a thousand other people teamsters, sharp-shooters, translators, look-outs, saloons, hostels, churches, farms, rumors, and slaves
Somewhere between the Olympics and the counterculture, between Autonomia and Bauhaus, between quantum physics and Sun Ra, between the great Apache warrior Lozen and Audre Lorde. in building hallways, at the coffee machine, in the back of kebab houses, at parties, in love affairs, in prisons
Bistros, print shops, sports facilities, wastelands, second-hand book stalls, building rooftops, improvised street markets, kebab shops and garages
a dealing territory, or a hunting territory; a territory of child’s play, of lovers, of a riot; a territory of farmers, ornithologists, or flaneurs
In the shadows of bar rooms, in print shops, squats, farms, occupied gymnasiums the woods, at punk shows, at the beach, in dance parties, in the black bloc
From pickling workshops and biointensive farms to hack spaces and reoccupied native territories,
BUILD THE COMMUNE
knowing how to fight, to pick locks, to set broken bones and treat sicknesses; how to build a pirate radio transmitter; how to set up street kitchens; how to aim straight; how to gather together scattered knowledge and set up wartime agronomics; understand plankton biology; soil composition; study the way plants interact; get to know possible uses for and connections with our immediate environment as well as the limits we can’t go beyond without exhausting it.
Get property. Pirate radio. Build stoves. Learn to cook. Learn Languages. Get arms. Open street carts and businesses. Occupy buildings. Set up cafes. Diners. Restaurants. Pizza shops. Book stores. Permaculture. Mend wounds. Lathes. Giant pots. Orchards. Build friendships. Acquire film equipment and make documentaries. Talk to old comrades. Learn martial arts, Read. Travel. Learn from each other.Write newspapers. Weather the hard times. Loot. Hold regional gatherings. Write internal journals. Refine the art of sabotage. Distribute counterinformation. Offset presses. Raw materials and the means of production. Three thousand camping bowls. Survival packs. Organic seeds. Share thoughts, feelings, and practice. Learn history and learn from history. Build tables. Make art. Go to the woods. Summer retreats. Dance parties. Get cars. Steal money.
Move close to each other. Start uncontrollable riots.
Learn to make fire. Build structures. Cultivate plants. Raise animals. Cook. Cook for a thousand. Jailbreak phones. Jailbreak friends. Infect networks. Build networks. Sing. Drum. War Songs. Read tracks. Fix cars. Fix bikes. Design print. Design furniture. Design circuits. Spin metal. Weld. Smithing. Bees. Train. Learn to fight. To think. To love. To heal wounds. To heal the world.
Work-based, neighborhood-based collectives, collectives of citizens, of activists, of associations, of artists, etc., collectives of every sort
the theater troupe, the seminar, the rock group, the rugby team In urban centers, designers experiment with signal blocking, counter-surveillance clothing and stealth apps to take us on and off the communications grid. In Missouri, Open Source Ecology maniacally builds a ‘civilization starter kit’ of the most essential tools and machines for a relocalized, self-organized way of life. On the Great Plains, the Ponca plant ceremonial corn alongside their former enemies both in opposition to the KeystoneXL.
singing “Baby Shark” to an anxious toddler, jumping subway turnstiles, or carrying an umbrella in Hong Kong high schools, punk shows, art scenes, cafes, bars Cafes, restaurants, bars, gyms, universities, community gardens, book stores, reading circles, art galleries, parks, hacker conferences, farmers markets, salons a cafe, a restaurant, a pizza shop, a book store, a gym, a bar.
You wander through your neighborhood, stopping by friends’ houses on your way to the cafe. You meet up nightly at the park to work out. You walk each other home. You share each other’s cars. You go camping and learn how to start a fire together. You pool money for a collective rainy day.
A repurposed storefront hosts weekly dinners that turn into planning sessions. A collectively-run cafe sets aside profits to incubate other spaces, like a wood shop where carpenters work together to build more than just bookshelves.
a gourmet meal of stolen food; a few graffiti kids racking paint, sharing the loot, and hitting the town together for a single night; a conspiracy of baristas stealing coffee from the back [of the cafe — Editor’s note] to share with their friends at home
Live together. Share meals. Share money. Get everyone on food stamps, build farms, share techniques for theft and resource misallocation. Learn how to cook for two, then four, then twenty, then a thousand
Herbal remedies, auto-repair, home construction, business accounting, permaculture, programming, and legal work plagiarism, mail, scandal, or a fist fight
Every block has a garden and a tool library. Houses are fixed up and owned through use and care. Contracts are for people who hate each other, and they still get written up from time to time, but shelter is not something you deprive even someone you hate. In the garden, the neighborhood watch meets twice a week to practice de-escalation techniques and nonviolent communication, and trains for situations when those don’t work. The strip is dotted with every variety of eatery, collectively run with locally grown food and some specialty items acquired through autonomous trade routes.
A group of designers and engineers who hate their jobs team up to create an app that coordinates a flexible supply chain among the farms and distribution points. These efforts lead to an autonomous trade corridor springing up. The growth of the network’s force and the utter disregard for regulations leaves the authorities helpless, as food and people circulate freely along with the spirit of rebellion.
Occupy deadening spaces—city halls, schools,shopping malls— and breathe new life into them. Anticipate and intensify strategic fractures. Redirect communications systems. Commandeer supply lines. Seize power without governing.
In the subway, there’s no longer any trace of the screen of embarrassment that normally impedes the gestures of the passengers. Strangers make conversation without making passes. A band of comrades conferring on a street corner. Much larger assemblies on the boulevards, absorbed in discussions. Surprise attacks mounted in city after city, day after day. A new military barracks has been sacked and burned to the ground. The evicted residents of a building have stopped negotiating with the mayor’s office; they settle in. A company manager is inspired to blow away a handful of his colleagues in the middle of a meeting. There’s been a leak of files containing the personal addresses of all the cops, together with those of prison officials, causing an unprecedented wave of sudden relocations. We carry our surplus goods into the old village bar and grocery store, and take what we lack. Some of us stay long enough to discuss the general situation and figure out the hardware we need for the machine shop. The radio keeps the insurgents informed of the retreat of the government forces. A rocket has just breached a wall of the Clairvaux prison. Impossible to say if it has been months or years since the “events” began. And the prime minister seems very alone in his appeals for calm.
Farmers and gardeners experiment with organic agriculture while makers and hackers reconfigure machines. Models escape the vacant limelight and break bread with Kurdish radicals and military veterans taking a stand for communal life. Those with no use for politics find each other at a dinner table in Zuccotti Park, Oscar Grant Plaza, or Tahrir Square, and the barista who can barely feed himself alone learns to cook for a thousand together. An Instagram star whose anxiety usually confines them to their apartment meets a battle-scarred elder in Ferguson, where they are baptized in tear gas and collective strength, and begin to feel the weight lifted from their soul.
In the suburbs, a Walmart is now a hub for free goods and getting organized. Truckers and first responders meet to coordinate aid to a flooded territory. In the West, technologists outfit weather balloons with transceivers to amplify the autonomous internet. Labor freed from the economy increases the yield of autonomous farms.
A network of fightclubs connects every major city. Experienced members teach grappling and striking alongside basic fitness and stretching. Each club finds its space and builds ties with their community, especially those being cast off from this world. One chapter in the Midwest mobilizes with truckers to resist automation. Together they paralyze I-70 with the help of a geotracking app, block the self-driving trucks, and break open their cargo holds. What is useful is expropriated and the rest turned to ashes. Smoke blinds police cruisers already lost amidst makeshift barricades. The cargo yields a batch of mini-drones, which are sent into defensive flight patterns via a reconfigured app. The hacked drones infiltrate incoming police drones to transmit a virus that freezes their propellers, dropping them harmlessly to the ground. Acting with the chaos, the belligerent truckers and fightclubbers take the offensive and make their escape.
Different groups of people cycle through the farms in neighborhoods outside downtown, ready to provide food for thousands of people occupying Woodruff Park. A warehouse on the west side has trucks and teams to drive to abandoned hotels and industrial waste facilities, gathering “raw” material — metal, lumber, kitchen equipment — that can be used to build brick ovens and fix up the new building. A partisan cafe downtown functions as an entry point for visitors and newcomers, as well as a drop-in point for insurgents from around the state, the region, the country, and even the world. The dance club lets people in to blend with the crowd after a rowdy demo while giving them a way to blow off some steam. Pirate radio transmitters broadcast from secret locations outside of the city to spread sedition and heresy into the heart of a great metropolis. University copy machines are hacked for free prints for this weekend’s assembly — the print shop is already running overtime. A friend walks out of the store with a backpack full of goods and a knowing wink. Doctors and herbalists are at hand, equipped to deal with any injuries that might ensue from tonight’s riot, well trained from treating common ailments and injuries. The family lake house is repurposed to sleep a hundred for a summer strategy meeting. Slowly, something is growing.
Sourced from The Coming Insurrection, To Our Friends, Now, Inhabit, How to Start a Fire, The Vitalist International, Clarifications, The Strategy of Composition, Nomos of the Earth, Memes Without End, The Next Eclipse
“Reformism is undoubtedly the best option for arranging niches within the existent, and the partisans of alternate conflictuality have a historical head start in terms of the integration and recuperation of struggles. As for the others, there is still a whole world to be attacked, in which autonomous and affinity-based possibilities remain alive, experimented with to the great displeasure of the leaders of composition and their allies in the struggle against this airport.
At Notre-Dame-des-Landes lies a corpse: that of a proper composition that has definitively made clear, once it has been put up against the wall, both with whom (the State) and against whom (the uncontrolled) it wishes to build its opportunistic little world. Also, we know what the price is for letting the more or less visibly organized authoritarians do their politicking in peace. This is good news, because the increasingly unbearable smell of this corpse opens up a thousand other paths. Towards freedom in action, this time.”
 René Riesel and Jaime Semprun, Catastrophism, disaster management and sustainable submission, Encyclopédie des nuisances, June 2008, p. 41–42
 Tiqqun, afterword of March 2004 to the Italian edition of Bloom’s Theory, Bollati Boringhieri, November 2004, p. 136. One may also note the little game of correspondences between the twins of Tiqqun, The Call and The Coming Insurrection: in this afterword, Tiqqun recommends to the “Italian public” reads The Call, while The Insurrection has made it onto its back cover. Finally, the second text of the Comité Invisible, A point of clarification, discreetly included at the bottom of its third page a website that brings together these different writings, and others to which they are related (such as those of the Committee of the Sorbonne in exile).
 Comité Invisible, A point of clarification, January 22, 2009, p. 3
 At Daggers Drawn with the Existent, its Defenders and its False Critics
 Ireos, Una colonia comunista, Biblioteca de la Protesta Umana (Milan), 1907
 Proposition 14 of the Occupation Committee of the Sorbonne in exile, June 2006 & proposition of Jardin s’embrase, Les mouvements sont faits pour mourir, Tahin Party (Lyon), August 2007, p. 114
 An illustration of this logic can be found in “Et maintenant qu’on
fait?” (Indy Nantes, October 28), where anarchism and pacifism are no
longer ideas with practical extensions, a relationship to the world, but
stupid divisions to be overcome in order to “know how to create a
force” and “move towards victories.” For our little post-Blanquist
generals, in fact, why bother with ideas and coherence (between means
and ends, for example), since everything is reduced to tactical
“situations” that simply need to fit into their miserable little
calculations: “Sunday night, we heard that Rémi was a pacifist, that
the people who participated in the clashes were anarchists. Such
statements are unbearable. To say that is to maintain old divisions and
to play into the hands of the police. The strength of movements and
struggles like the No-Tav in Italy, the ZAD of Notre-Dame or others, is
precisely to have known how to gather within them practices which,
instead of opposing each other, complement each other and can associate
with one another to move towards sensible and material victories. The
intelligence of the struggle is to transform what too often appears as
rigid divisions and divergences into revisable tensions that allow us to
grow together. Knowing how to create a force out of the multitude of
We find, of course, the same proposal in “To Our Friends” by the “Invisible Committee” (p. 149) about the struggle against the TAV in Italy: “… resorting to sabotage at one moment and partnership with the valley’s mayors the next, associating anarchists and Catholic grandmas, this struggle is revolutionary at least insofar as it has been able to deactivate the infernal coupling of pacifism and radicalism.”
 Translator’s note: “Against the airport and the world that needs it” became a slogan of the ZAD.
 Translator’s note: For more about the CMDO, see The “Movement” is Dead, Long Live… Reform: A Critique of “Composition” and it’s Elites
 Translator’s note: See bureburebure.info