Thursday, July 30, 2009

Capitalism at the Crossroads and the opportunity of the Yugoslav crisis

Capitalism at the crossroads and the opportunity of the Yugoslav crisis

The Yugoslav crisis has spanned the entire post cold war transition period for capitalism. This crisis has given the US an opportunity to reshape world institutions and rebuild its hegemony over the world capitalist system. The war over Kosovo was the high point in US strategic operations to maintain its hegemony over Europe so far in the post-Soviet era. This article looks at the Kosovo situation from two perspectives, that of US hegemonic interests and that of localized struggles within the context of global capitalism. In doing so it attempts to undermine the dominant mystifying stories told about the Yugoslav crisis and our present world system, many of which are often acritically accepted by anarchists and those on the left. The rhetoric that frames globalization as a lessening of government control misses the obvious reality that this lessening of control applies only to capital and not to people. The process of ‘globalization’ of capital is achieved through an alliance between state and capital, just like its close cousins, imperialism and colonialism—only now the state is retooled.

Global context:

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the old global institutions set up to manage capitalism and the international state-system were no longer tuned to operate smoothly with global capitalism. While the US was certainly in the dominant position economically and militarily in the post-Soviet world, US political hegemony over Europe was weakening. The Soviet threat had provided the US with the role of protector of Europe and this allowed the US to gain political control in Western Europe in order to maintain and extend its interests (especially the direction of accumulation strategies) on the continent. Thus NATO was the institutional key to US hegemony in Europe. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 brought about a radical shift in the balance of power. The US lost its primary role in Europe. At the same time, European countries, Germany in particular, began to pursue a more independent policy. US allies were beginning to threaten US interests. Germany, for example, was well placed to take advantage of the opening of Eastern Europe to capitalist investment. The UN Security Council was another institution of the old post-war order that the US needed to reconfigure. In response, the US has taken on an activist policy in order to reshape its role in respect to Europe and the global economy. The crisis in Yugoslavia has been the primary terrain on which the US has attempted to carve out a new, but still dominant, position. In particular, the US has undermined the role of the UN Security Council and expanded US authority to act independently of any international mandate. European countries also tried to stake out a position independent of the US on what action to take in Kosovo, but they were out-flanked by the US. Not only did Kosovo offer the US an opportunity to reassert its hegemony, but, in doing so, the US also managed the situation so as to maintain the need for NATO. Therefore, we have to be weary of arguments that make the US war in Kosovo seem like an inept or evil response to local events. The reality is that the US used the Yugoslav crisis as an opportunity to reorganize and reinvigorate its role in the world. For the US, the war was a strategic response to a much greater problem, that of maintaining its hegemony over the global economy. It was, therefore, part of the same process that created the World Trade Organization and the revamping of international trade laws.

The retooling of global institutions within this new context includes the retooling of the nation-state. It does not mean that the nation-state is disappearing--it certainly still has an extremely important role in the new- world order--only that its role is changing. This is something that anarchists and anti-authoritarians must theoretically map out. We must also not fall back on a simplistic position of supporting the old system of nation-states against the new--as some anarchists have proposed--as if the state could ever be used to overthrow the capitalist economy.

The IMF, capitalist rationalization and the mediating force of Nationalism

The story of Serb and Albanian nationalism is usually told in terms of an eternal conflict that periodically bubbles to the surface. The explosion of nationalism in the late 80s and 90s is explained as a natural outpouring of nationalism that had been suppressed by the Communist State. Here, we tell a different story. One that shows that there is nothing natural about nationalism, but instead, that the violence that occurred in Yugoslavia was the combined result of global capitalist forces, local working-class action, and Serb state reaction. The US took advantage of this situation to pursue its global strategic goals. In order to denaturalize the recent Yugoslav ethnic conflict in recent years, we have to place the story in this context and spell out the history of these combined forces.

In the 1970s, the specter of nationalism rose in Yugoslavia. This was due largely to the contradictions of ‘Market Socialism,’ which allowed a very uneven development of the Yugoslav economy. Tito responded in 1974 by recentralizing the state and economy. However, at the same time the Yugoslav economy was in trouble; it was much more exposed to the international economy than other ‘Communist’ countries and was running a huge deficit that was paid for by foreign borrowing. Due to the high cost of money since the 1976 oil crisis, the cost of financing this debt shot up tremendously. By 1980, Yugoslavia had a foreign debt of $14 Billion, they joined the IMF that year in order to finance their debt. Therefore in the early 80s, the government tried to cut imports and raise exports. At the same time, more and more corporations began operating at a loss. The less developed regions of Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia) suffered the worst. Unemployment began to rise.

In the early 1980s, the IMF imposed strict conditions on Yugoslavia in return for a postponement on a small portion of the national debt. (This process that the IMF began must be seen as part of a conscious strategy by the US and probably Europe to bring the Yugoslav economy firmly under the control of global capitalist institutions.) Under these conditions, most prices were to be set by the market, interest rates were hiked, the Yugoslav currency (the dinar) was devalued, and the level of consumption by the average Yugoslav was to be cut drastically. The terms for foreign business investment were also relaxed. And, with the devaluation of the dinar, labor power became very cheap. Foreign businesses, especially from West Germany, Italy and Austria, set up small factories there to exploit the situation created by the IMF. The rise in interest rates meant that many more companies fell into bankruptcy and unemployment rose even further. As with all IMF restructurings, in Yugoslavia it was the working class that was to pay for the debt. Wage controls, which squeezed the working class, were set by the federal government. This was the final blow to the already weakened ‘self-management’ system.

The IMF operated through the central government and encouraged the centralization of control over the economy at the federal level. And it was through the federal government that the IMF decided which region was going to prosper and which region was not, perpetuating preexisting inequalities between republics. This was one cause for the resurgence of nationalism in the mid-to late 1980s. By 1984 many workers were being paid primarily in food. There was not much more that could be squeezed out of the workers. As one Yugoslav economist put it, "It is true that the workers have not eaten the accumulation; but they will nevertheless have to pay for all the wrong investment made by borrowing abroad. Somebody must pay, and it must be industry." Meanwhile, the Party was at a loss what to do. They were stuck between the working class—which was where their legitimacy came from—and the IMF. In their vacillation, the IMF took charge. As the center of the Party was split from what working-class support it had, it began to fracture.

As the Party increasingly committed itself to a liberalization of the economy under the pressure of the IMF, the social welfare of the working class was ignored. Strike activity increased in 1987 in response to wage cuts, particularly in Zagreb and Belgrade, bringing the whole party-class alliance into to an end. 1988 saw the largest wave of strikes yet. In Eastern Croatia, Croatian and Serb workers united to strike but by two years later, in 1990, this alliance had been broken. By the end of 1988, the massive strikes had forced the leaders of the federal government to resign. Under this tension, the federal and republic states came into greater and greater conflict. And it was nationalism that provided the clearest tool for the republican governments to channel the worker revolt to their advantage. With the loss of the legitimizing party-class alliance and in a bind between the IMF and a combative working class it was ethnic nationalism that provided legitimacy for republican governments.

By 1987, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro were bankrupt. Bosnia-Herzegovina was also in trouble. And with the vacillation of the center, power shifted into the hands of the leaders of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. The economic crisis pushed the republic and provincial parties to entrench themselves in local nationalist constituencies. In a period of economic collapse, the Macedonian party channeled the despair of the working class into a nationalist, anti-Albanian form. Slovenia, where the economic situation was not so bad, took a turn towards democracy. In Serbia, a sharp intra-party struggle and a very combative working class led to a very nationalist reaction by some within the Serbian Communist Party in order to contain the worker revolts and take control of the Republic.

The Serbian Republic contained two Autonomous Provinces, Vojvodina (over 50% Serb) and Kosovo (90% Albanian). As the Serb Party tried to centralize its control and move to a more nationalist stance, both provinces, but Kosovo in particular, stood in its way. At the same time, Kosovo offered certain factions of the Serb elite an opportunity to channel worker revolt. As economic conditions worsened (unemployment was over 50% for the working class), Serbs in Kosovo played the nationalism card. In 1987, Serbs in Kosovo began to create Serb only factories to protect against the massive lay-offs of workers in the province. The 1981 Albanian movement for Republic status was described as a ‘counter-revolution’ and Serb leaders in Kosovo who sent delegates to Belgrade to lobby for ‘protection.’ This situation became central to the power struggle within the Serbian Communist Party. Two factions had developed: the ‘liberal’ faction led by Stambolic and the conservative-nationalist faction led by Milosevic. Milosevic built his support by chanelling worker discontent into Serb nationalism, especially against the Albanians, and, in 1987, Milosevic won the Party struggle and Stambolic was out. In 1988, Vojvodina lost its status as an autonomous province and Kosovo was brought under the rule of the Serbian Party. Milosevic’s party and the media under his control encouraged huge nationalist protests in Belgrade. The federal government called on the Serbian Party to end the demonstrations, but Milosevic refused. When the Serbian party imposed its own officials on Kosovo’s assembly in February 1989, Albanians, under pressure from both nationalist Serbs and terrible economic conditions, began a general strike led by miners in order to demand the reinstatement of Kosovo’s autonomy. Support for the strike came from workers in Croatia and Slovenia. A state of emergency was declared, troops were sent in, and the leaders of the strikes were arrested. At the same time, Serbs began to form paramilitaries. In March 1989 when the Kosovar assembly agreed to accept direct rule from Belgrade, Kosovar workers rioted until they were violently suppressed. By 1989, Milosevic was in control of the Kosovan, Vojvodinan, and Montenegrin, as well as Serbian, votes at the federal level. The center was losing hold and the nationalist republics were competing with the working class to fill the void.

Unlike in the 1960s, when radical students and intellectuals joined the worker’s movement, in the late 1980s intellectuals joined the Serb nationalists—those of the Praxis group, for example. Serb intellectuals participated in this process of "nationalizing" the crisis by rewriting Serb history. The anti-communist Chetniks were rehabilitated. Sympathy for pre-World War II, Serb bourgeois politicians was invoked. More serious, the Yugoslav State was painted as being hostile to the natural nationalism of the Serb people. The prime enemy, however, was the Kosovo Albanians, who were represented as attacking Serbs and interrupting the integrity of the Serb state. The conflict with the Albanians was also represented as part of an eternal conflict between ethnic groups. These views were broadcast widely as Milosevic took firm control of media.

In 1989, the federal government continued its economic reforms still trying to deal with its large debt. The reforms targeted large industries for privatization or bankruptcy. These reforms, under the guidance of the IMF and World Bank, tightened the money supply and, thus, speeded up the bankruptcy process. In 1989, almost 100,000 workers were fired out of an industrial work force of 2.7 million. In 1990, a new IMF/World Bank program was adopted that funneled even more money into debt payments and put another 500,000 workers out of work and 1.3 million more were targeted for future layoffs. Even more firms attempted to avoid bankruptcy by not paying wages. The 1990 program also deregulated trade, allowing a flood of imports. There were violent strikes throughout the republics in response to these changes forcing a postponement of both the privatization of enterprises and the abandonment of the so-called self-management apparatus.

While these latest reforms ate their way through the lives of Yugoslavia’s workers, separatist coalitions ousted the Communists in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia. The German government, with its eyes on cheap workers, quickly recognized Croatia and Slovenia and pushed the EC to encourage "ethnically based" nations. Slovenia and Croatia were the wealthiest of the Yugoslavian republics. This was a result of the fact that they had both been a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, they endured less infrastructural damage during WWII, and they had had strong ties with German and Italian Capital. This wealth was one of the main reasons these two republics tried to secede first, and it explains the growth of nationalism among the Slovenian and Croatian elite. The Yugoslav State demanded money for development funds for the poorer republics, whereas independence promised increased trade with Germany and therefore economic gain for the Croatian and Slovenian elite. Soon after Germany recognized the republics the wars between these states and Serbia began. These wars destroyed what was left of working class solidarity. At the same time, Milosevic’s position was strengthened over Serbian workers: he was now able to deepen his attack on their living conditions. The results for US hegemony were far more ambiguous: US policy in the Balkans had not defined a clear and dominant role for the US in the management of global conflict. But the growing conflict over Kosovo offered them a new opportunity to rebuild their hegemonic position in Europe.

The Kosovo War:

For over a year before the Kosovo war, Europe and Russia conflicted with the US over Kosovo policy. In particular, the US sabotaged every attempt at peaceful settlement of the issue up to the point that it launched the war and invited the killing of Kosovo Albanians. Through this, the US was able to cut Russia out the decision making process and channel the Europeans into supporting its policy. After the Dayton accords, the US had supported the maintenance of the borders of what remained of Yugoslavia. In 1998, the US administration’s policy with regard to Kosovo was reversed. This was due in part to the 1998 financial crisis which had destabilized Russia, creating an increased possibility of an ultra-nationalist/communist alliance. Russia was also a threat to the further spread of NATO allied states in Eastern Europe. Beginning in 1998, the US sent conflicting signals to Serbia. The US stated publicly that it thought the Serbians were going to do in Kosovo what they did in Bosnia and that the US would not let that happen. At the same time, the US stated that it believed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was a terrorist group, thus encouraging Serbian counter-insurgency measures. Also in 1998, the Serbians indicated that they would agree to a negotiated solution to the Kosovo situation including a degree of autonomy for the region. This solution was being pushed by Europe and Russia, and the Rugova Albanian opposition in Kosovo came to support it as well. Only the KLA and the US (especially Albright) opposed the plan. While Richard Holbrooke, Albright’s rival in the Clinton administration, did negotiate a cease-fire in October, the White House undermined it. They reorganized the "monitoring force" in order to use it to survey the infrastructure of Kosovo to facilitate a future NATO attack. The KLA stepped up its attacks as noted by the Europeans.

Meanwhile, the French pushed for negotiations which began in Rambouillet, France in February, 1999. But real negotiations never occurred. Before they were to begin, the US brought the French and the British in line. The Serbs wanted face to face negotiations as, it seems, did the Rugova (Albanian) government of Kosovo. Yet the US replaced the elected Rugova government with the KLA at the last moment, and instead of negotiations, the Serbians were given an ultimatum. They were told they had to sign the US written agreement or it would be war. Even though the agreement wouldn’t have been legally binding under international law as it would have been made under threat of aggression, the Serbs didn’t sign it. The US knew the Serbs couldn’t sign. Under the "agreement" NATO, not the Albanians, would have controlled Kosovo. After a few years, Kosovo would have the chance to become independent. The agreement also stated that NATO could move forces over the whole of Yugoslavia and alter the infrastructure of Yugoslavia as it saw fit. The agreement gave NATO the right to control the economy of Kosovo and stated: "The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles," and that there must be complete compliance with the dictates of the IMF and World Bank.

On the 19th of March, Clinton announced that the bombing would begin soon (it started five days later). Thus, the Serbs were given five days to do what they liked in Kosovo. The first week of bombing was aimed at targets outside of Kosovo, giving the Serbs even more time to clear strategic villages of the KLA. Why did NATO do this? It wasn’t bad planning on the part of NATO; they had been planning the attack for 14 months. NATO was letting the Serbs give them justification for their bombing which would bring European public opinion in line with the campaign. As the bombings wore on, the Serbs didn’t tow the US line and commit wholesale genocide. Nor did they quickly cave in to US demands. At that point, the Germans and Russians tried to end the war through diplomacy, threatening to undermine the US hard-line. This process was ended, however, when the US bombed the Chinese embassy (it has since come out that the Chinese were retransmitting radio signals for the Serbian Army, and the bombing certainly seems to have been no mistake at all). When NATO finally brought the war to an end, the US had reexerted its control over NATO policy and rebuilt the role of NATO in managing global conflict. In addition, through the conflict the US had extended the authority of NATO to act independently of the UN and the Security Council, thus sidestepping Russian and Chinese attempts to counter US hegemony.

After the war, the US agreed to the same conditions that the Serbs had proposed before the war. The two conditions of the US ultimatum that Milosevic had originally opposed--NATO access to Serbia and a NATO only occupying force in Kosovo--were dropped. So the motivating factor for the war must be looked for beyond the terms of the Rambouillet accords, beyond the terms of a local conflict. The war must be understood in terms of a conjunction of both global and local forces: the restructuring demands of global capital through the IMF, the workers’ resistance to attacks on their livelihood, the factional struggle for power within the Yugoslav state, and the attempt by the US to maintain hegemony.

As IMF rationalization began to bite into the Yugoslav economy in the 1980s, a strong working class responded with a wave of strikes. Caught between the institutions of global capital and a rebellious populace, the Yugoslav central government was weakened leaving a space for rising nationalist politicians, who took on a new form of mediation between capital and the working class. These politicians generated a nationalism that split the working class and channeled their revolt. Nationalism, therefore, was less a reaction against global capitalism than a form of mediation that allowed a new elite to come to power and to implement drastic economic measures. At the same time, the Yugoslav crisis afforded the US an opportunity to reconstitute its role in Europe and, thus, maintain its hegemonic position vis-à-vis Western Europe and Russia.

Of course, working class and anti-systemic revolt continues, which brings up the issue of solidarity. In Krajlevo, Serbia there was mass draft refusal in March, 2000. Residents greeted draft officials with sticks and agricultural tools. Only 15% of reservists from that town showed up when called to duty. In the neighboring town of Cacak, residents took over the local TV station and placed a 24 hour armed guard there and bear traps around the station. There have been several similar acts of defiance recently in other Serbian cities. Solidarity with these acts of insurrection should not be only verbal, for such solidarity is empty. We need to attack capital in solidarity with the struggles of Serbs who refuse nationalism and refuse to measure their lives with the ruler of international capital.

Further Reading:

Aufheben "Class Decomposition in the New World Order: Yugoslavia Unravelled."

Bjekic, Vesna. Serbs opt for Rebellion. (BCR No. 129, 31-Mar 00).

Flipovic, Miroslav (BCR No. 128, 28 Mar-00)

Gowan, Peter. Counterpunch "Twilight of the European Project

Magas, Branka. The Destruction of Yugoslavia: Tracking the Breakup 1980-92. Verso: London, 1993.

Mojzes, Paul. Yugoslavian Inferno: Ethnoreligious Warfare in the Balkans. Continuum: New York, 1994.

Wildcat "Yugoslavia: from wage cuts to war"

The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism among Anarchists: A review of Hakim Bey's Millenium

The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism among Anarchists

A review of Hakim Bey’s Millenium

According to Hakim Bey, he wrote Millennium to answer to the question of whether he still holds the position he staked out in TAZ. By reading Millennium we can both understand Bey's current theoretical position and how he placed TAZ in the first place. First off, Bey notes that between the two books the world changed: the Soviet Union fell apart. This has radical implications for anarchists. Before the fall, anarchists were the "third way" (not to be confused with Tony Blair's Third Way) and the real opposition to Capital was the Soviet Union. With the Soviet dissolution, anarchism has become the other of Capital. Where as when anarchism was the third way, anarchists could hang out in the cracks creating Temporary Autonomous Zones and not really confronting Capital or the State, we no longer have that luxury. Bey admits that it took him some time to realize the difference that this made; in fact, in the early nineties he still counseled anarchists that the present was like the Dark Ages and, as with the mystics and monks Bey so loves, we should hang out and meditate in the monasteries until they are over. It seems that it took the Zapatistas to wake Bey to the implications of anarchism becoming the primary opposition to Capital. In Millennium, Bey concludes that TAZ is no longer an option, now we must leave the monasteries and begin the Jihad (the revolution).

But what is this Jihad Bey has declared? With a jumble of badly digested academic, post-colonial theory, the writings of Deleuze and Guattari, Islam and the sound-bytes of Subcommander Marcos, Bey paints a colonial picture of our ‘newly’ globalized world. In Bey's world, capitalism and the state are no longer the central enemies (in fact, they begin to drop out of Bey's analysis, as capital no longer exploits or alienates, it only produces 'sameness'); instead, colonialism in the form of globalization that produces 'sameness' (homogenization) is what we must confront with a revolution of 'difference.' With this logic, the form revolution must take to protect difference, to fight colonialism, is national liberation. Thus, Bey's acritical support for the EZLN revolt (a revolt Bey joyfully calls the first postmodern revolution).

For Bey, difference is constituted by ethnic nationalism. Accordingly, we need to understand the "revolutionary implication of culture." (43) Or, more directly, Bey states, "...true organic integral difference is revolutionary, now. It has to be, because it's opposed to the single world, the mono-world, the mono-culture of capital." (25) We have to ask, however, what is "true" or "organic" about ethnic nationalities? One of the central problems with Bey's anti-colonial outlook is that it tends to naturalize nationalities and thus nationalism. It makes them seem natural and eternal instead of historically specific and socially constructed. Contra Bey's reading, nationalities are produced at certain times and by certain forces. And, instead of just assuming they are eternal and fixed, as Bey simplistically does, we need to pay attention to how such ethnic differences come to be created and articulated by political and social actors for particular reasons.

Bey does allow for "positive" and "negative" difference or particularities (nationalities). Positive or "true" nationalities are those that aren't imperialistic (those that stay in their borders and don't dominate their minorities). Bey offers the examples of the Zapatistas, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia, the Ukraine, the Kurds and the Chechens as positive nationalities and nationalisms; and, he cites the Serbs and Russia as negative or hegemonic particularities. Yet in fine New York Times style, these nationalities in and of themselves remain unquestioned. This is the weakness of Bey's sameness/difference dichotomy, in which, he tells us, we have to choose one or the other. Thus instead of acting in revolutionary solidarity with the struggle against the state and capital, we should choose difference or nationalism (versus globalization), and try to influence it to take the non-imperialist, nice form of nationalism.

The Poverty of Choice

Bey’s either/or choice is an expression of the poverty of imagination inherent in much anti-globalization rhetoric: sameness or difference, globalization or nationalism. Thus Bey says, "…one cannot help but supporting Chechnya and the Kurds." (100) We can’t help it, or as he also says, "we have to choose…." In Chechnya nationalists have begun to institute Shariat law and the death penalty (of course, for Bey, law and the Shariat have been redefined as no less than "the open road of the aimless wanderer." (41)). Kurdish nationalists have been crushing all internal dissent for years; perhaps Bey should speak with Kurdish anarchists before jumping on the nationalist bandwagon. One wonders where Bey would stand in relation to the war in Kosovo. He has already stated that Serbian nationalism is bad and Bosnian is good, so I suppose he would stand with the KLA nationalist government in waiting (for Bey, there is the added benefit that the Kosovo Albanians are for the most part Muslims). Unfortunately for Bey, the KLA are now aligned with NATO, a force for ‘sameness’ if there ever was one. The contradictions of nationalism begin to mount.

The State versus Globalization

Bey’s anti-globalization ideology goes as far as to set up a facile opposition between globalization (‘sameness’) and the nation-state (‘difference’???). Bey states: "Like religion, the State has simply failed to ‘go away’—in fact, in a bizarre extension of the thesis of ‘Society against the State,’ we can even reimagine the State as an institutional type of ‘custom and right’ which Society can wield (paradoxically) against an even more ‘final’ shape of power—that of ‘pure Capitalism.’" (96) While in TAZ Bey, unlike many other anarchists, was simply waiting for the state to ‘go away’ on its own, in Millennium he has decided that, since it didn’t disappear, we could use it to fight Capitalism. Of course, in order to do so, we need to take over the state, to control it: Hakim Bey for President! Once our trusted comrades are firmly in power they will dismantle Capitalism and shore up the nationalist venture. Yet, while Clastres’ ‘Society Against the State" shows that society developed customs to oppose the concentration and institutionalization of power, the nation-state grew up working with capital from its birth. Unlike the customs of gatherer/hunter societies that work to defuse power, the nation-states laws and institutions are organized to facilitate and protect the accumulation of capital.

One of the central myths that much of the current talk about ‘globalization’ propagates is that the state is opposed to the global accumulation and expansion of capital. Somehow there exists a "pure Capitalism" which needs no state to protect its property system, guarantee its currency, mediate its disputes and contain social conflict. But to realign ourselves with the state and nationalism is to align ourselves with the reproduction of capitalism as a system and against a certain set of capitalists. There is no "pure Capitalism" that wishes the state would disappear. The logic of capitalist accumulation continually works to refashion the state as it develops and changes its needs. Bey seems to think that globalization is about to do away with borders and the state. Yet the reality is quite the opposite. While borders are becoming more porous to the movement of goods and capital, they are becoming more controlled in terms of the movement of people. This works to capital’s advantage as capital needs to control and divide labor in order to increase exploitation. Without borders the poor could move from the third world where the rate of capitalist exploitation is highest and to areas where the living standards of the working class are much higher. Thus Bey’s nationalism actually works hand-in-hand with capitalism to insure the maintenance of borders and the control and division of labor. It is no surprise, therefore, that ethnic-nationalism has become one of the organizing narratives of the ‘90’s. It is the flipside of the narrative of globalization. These hegemonic narratives limit the imagination’s capacity to think of a different world. Thus they contain and recuperate oppositional forces. It is for this reason that we must always be careful of setting up such simple dichotomous choices such as Bey’s ‘sameness’ versus ‘difference’ or globalization versus nationalism. We must demand what has been made to seem as impossible instead off falling into ready-made categories of thought.

Poetic History

Bey’s theories are grounded in history; unfortunately, his post-modern "poetic history" has more akin to myth than to a radical, critical history. The pirates of North Africa become "pirate utopias" without mention of the fact that their ships were, for the most part, powered by slaves at the oar (sounds like Bookchin’s utopic slave society of the Ancient Greek city states). Col. Qaddafi’s "Green Path" is part neo-Sufism, part anarcho-syndicalism.(44) The hierarchically organized, ethnic-nationalist Tong in China becomes an inspiration. And religion becomes revolutionary. Bey goes so far to state that "…it seems clear that without religion there will be no radical revolution." (84) The history of the Tong is rewritten or badly read by Bey to make them Taoists who supposedly collaborated with anarchists in the 1911 revolution in China. (84) The weak connection between the Tong and Taoism is about as weak as the connection between the Tong and the anarchists. We also shouldn’t forget that the 1911 revolution was a nationalist revolution, something that doesn’t bother Bey at all. And from this argument we are supposed to realize that religion is necessary to revolution. It is by such poetic rewriting of history that Bey claims to be able to save the concept of ‘volk’ or ‘nationality.’ "This concept was looted by base reaction and distorted into hegemonism of the worst sort, but it too can be rescued (an ‘adventure’ in itself). [We need to re-read Proudhon, Marx, Nietzsche, Landauer, Fourier, Benjamin, Bakhtin, the IWW, etc.--the way the EZLN re-reads Zapata!]" (45)

Bey’s poetic history romanticizes cultural difference. Bey has called for a romantic Orientalism (are there other types?) that stresses the difference of the ‘Orient’ from the West. They were spiritual and we are secular and rational. This is the same argument that European Orientalism made over 100 years ago to justify its conquests. Bey’s favorites are romantic Islam and Taoism. In this poetic history of firm cultural difference, the individual tends to disappear, as do some of those annoying facts.

Such romanticization, however, has little to offer a truly revolutionary movement. Instead, we need a critical history that exposes such romanticizations that help nationalist history maintain its dominance. Poetic history works with nationalist, mythic history in making ethnic-difference seem natural, fixed, and eternal. Critical history denaturalizes hegemonic history and allows us to imagine a truly different world as opposed to setting up the simplistic choice between globalization and nationalism. We must think outside of the dominant narratives that capitalism puts forth to us, and blinds us with.

Unfortunately, just as TAZ, with its implicit suggestion that anarchists wait in the cracks for the state to crumble, was an expression of the weakness of the anarchist movement in the late ‘80’s, Millennium, with its more explicit demands that anarchists align themselves with nationalism, religion, and the state, is a measure of its weakness in the early ‘90’s. Hopefully, with the recent upswing in direct action by anarchists such expressions of weakness may be left behind as historical relics of a movement that had temporarily lost its ability to imagine and demand the impossible.

In the Distance: Suburbs against the Barricades

In the Distance: Suburbia against the barricades.

Haussmann and City Planning: the birth of the human tide.

"Having, as they do the appearance of walling in a massive eternity, Haussmann's urban works are a wholly appropriate representation of the absolute governing principles of the Empire: repression of every individual formation, every organic self-development, 'fundamental' hatred of all individuality."--JJ Honeger 1874(Benjamin, 122)

"But by the any standpoint other than that of facilitating police control, Haussmann's Paris is a city built by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Guy De Bord

Haussmann did not invent city planning, the Romans and ancient Chinese planned cities. Modern cities were planned and built in the British and French colonies earlier than in Europe. Washington DC was planned and built on an empty field decades before Haussmann refashioned Paris. What was different about Haussmann's Paris is that he built his new national capitol on top of the old Paris, a pre-industrial city. Haussmann's Paris reveals more about the architecture of capitalism and of the nation state than L'Enfant's D.C because it shows us what Haussmann chose to destroy as well as what he chose to build. In his demolition of poor neighborhoods and narrow streets we can see what he considered a threat to the new state and economy.

Boulevards were already replacing narrow streets in Paris two decades earlier than Haussmann took office, but on a much smaller scale. During the July revolution of 1830 an ironic twist befell government soldiers. The large squares of granite that were being used to pave new boulevards were dragged up to the top floor of houses and dropped on the heads of soldiers. These stones became a common source of barricade building materials. In 1830 there were 6,000 barricades. Haussmann took office after both the 1830 and 1848 insurrections, in 1853. In an attempt to prevent other insurrections, Haussmann tried to eliminate the construction of barricades by destroying narrow streets and replacing them with wide boulevards. He also built boulevards in order to allow for the easy transport of troops "connecting the government with the troops and the troops with the suburbs" and allowing troops to surround neighborhoods in the city. (Benjamin, 137-8) By paving boulevards Haussmann facilitated the regulated and regular movement of troops.

Haussmann's Paris was more than just a city. It was a symbol; its monuments and boulevards created an image of the capitol of a powerful empire. The fancy new boulevards that were part of this image pushed rents up just like recent "urban revitalization" projects. In 1864 Haussmann gave a speech venting "his hatred of the rootless urban population." (Benjamin, 12). The construction of boulevards drove the proletariat into the suburbs and increased the population of wandering homeless. Working class neighborhoods were destroyed to literally pave the way for boulevards, and when this didn't drive workers out of the city rising rents did. Haussmann's destruction and construction placed neighborhoods that were likely to revolt outside of the city. Boulevards allowed traffic to flow to the center of the city. The movement of workers' homes to the suburbs meant that 'commuting' to and from work was born on a mass scale.

"Hundreds of thousands of families, who work in the center of the capital, sleep in the outskirts. The movement resembles the tide: in the morning the workers stream into Paris, and in the evening the same wave of people flows out. It is a melancholy image...I would add...that it is the first time that humanity has assisted in a spectacle so dispiriting for the people." A. Gravneau, L'ouvrier devant la societe -Paris, 1868 (Benjamin, 137)

Haussmann aimed to detain and fix the rootless and to channel workers into linear movement: from home to work, from work to home, a precursor to metro, boulot, dodo.

Haussmann planned the construction of railway links between the center of Paris and its outskirts during a period in which the European railways expanded considerably. "Space is killed by the railways and we are left with time alone." -Heinrich Heine (Rice, 207) Space may not have been killed by the railways but high-speed travel has made travel time a greater consideration than travel distance. What Georg Simmel said of money can be said of the modern city. They both allow connections between previously distant things but make that which is close more difficult to reach. While distances were conquered by the railways, the nearby slipped further away. That is, at the same time as transportation and communications allowed one to reach far away places in a short period of time, ones neighbors became more distant: industrialization demanded more hours of work and more travel time to and from work, there was less time to socialize.

Let's not forget that the separation between work and leisure time is accompanied by the separation between living and working spaces. Industrialization and the subsequent proletarianization of large sectors of the population created this separation on a mass scale. Peasants had worked at or near home, those that had worked and lived in separate quarters generally found that the distance between these 2 points increased with industrialization. The increasing partition of time into working and living in separate spaces effected customary meal times, household labor and its sexual division, family relations and leisure activities. This separation began a process of increased dependence on consumer goods for previously home produced items. The creation of suburbs increased the distance of this separation. This separation corrodes the type of relationships that could form a basis for attacks on the established order. This separation organizes the spatial and temporal imposition of consumption and production. The prevalence of the spatial and temporal separation between work and 'life' was born with industrialization but has come to appear timeless and natural. The naturalness of this separation kills the passion for freedom by limiting our capacity to imagine any other organization of space and time than the repetitive constriction which capital imposes on us.

North American Suburbs: the paved dream.

Before World War II, the U.S. was already a highly industrialized country. Thus, the conditions I describe above were already common to North American cities. From the 30s on, the distance dividing living and working spaces increased exponentially as millions of Americans moved to the suburbs, highways were built and millions of Americans bought cars in an attempt to close this increasing distance.

The federal government employed millions in the thirties to build a new landscape. After WWII the Veteran's Mortgage Guarantee Program provided low cost housing to millions of people. From the late 40s to the mid-60s developers built 23 million new homes. Industry followed these mostly white new suburbanites out of the city, partly because unions were weaker there. In the 40s and 50s the government invested millions of dollars on the suburban infrastructure: gas, electricity, roads, sewer systems and highways. They built thousands of roads and highways allowing for easy movement between suburbs and city centers. Poor neighborhoods were unable to resist the construction of highways through their neighborhoods whereas rich neighborhoods had the clout to prevent this from happening. One more recent example of this is the construction of a highway in South Central Los Angeles while the rich of Beverly Hills were able to stop the construction of a highway in their neighborhood.

The defense department spent millions of dollars on freeways after the war. Just as Haussmann's boulevards were strategically useful to the military, highways could potentially be used as runways to land bombers. More significant though was the alliance between, car companies, the oil and rubber industries that lobbied for the construction of highways, and the state. These companies used the coercive power of the built environment to insure the consumption of their products. Suburbanization was a perfect accompaniment to the construction of roads, highways, and mass produced automobiles. Greater distances between work and home along with terrible public transportation (again thanks to the friendship between government and car and oil companies) created a need for automobiles.

Alienation is built into the city and into the suburbs, in its concrete and asphalt. Take the example of Los Angeles, the city built to accommodate cars but not walking human beings. In LA many people think nothing of driving 45 minutes just to go a bar to have a drink. Instead of having neighborhoods where one finds a whole street of bars or cafes, places to socialize are spread out over the city. North American cities lack any pre-capitalist history; they were built from the beginning by the dictates of capital, with government help. The result: urban blights that are more adapted to the automobile than the human being.

Unfortunately cities that predate capitalism can be also transformed into concrete monsters. In Torino, Italy the gigantic FIAT plant began assembly line mass production based on Ford's model decades before the rest of Europe. The result is the same as occurred in U.S. cities: mass production needed mass consumption to perpetuate itself, a cityscape was built that conformed to the requirements of accumulation. Someone had to buy the cars, to make this possible the car companies made sure that roads were built. Torino is a rare European example of the results of the dominion of a car company and its allies over a cityscape. Concrete partitions between seemingly endless apartments and a proliferation of roads have surrounded the walkable narrow streets of the old city. The FIAT plant employed a large percentage of Torino's residents for many decades. The employees were scattered throughout the city while the FIAT was in one location, the result: auto, boulot, dodo.

Back in the U.S.A., the suburban lawn and backyard were offered to a section of the working class and to the middle classes. The alienation from nature they experienced in their new automobiles and at work was compensated for and then hidden by an equally alienated but much more pleasant relationship to nature at home. Forced to buy what they could easily make at home if there were time, watching adventure on TV, the suburbanite resorts to control over nature where he lacks control over his own life. Therefore we observe bushes trimmed into squares, a neurosis for mowing lawns and meticulously planted rows of flowers. Garden stores have proliferated and the suburban yard has become nature as commodity. The suburban yard, the lies on television and 17 choices of toothpaste all helped perpetuate the illusion of the American dream. The American dream is lifeless and as uniform as the suburban lawn; it is produced by the television instead of by subjects that intervene in life in order to transform it. The American dream hides the degrading reality of a processed life from those "lucky" enough to afford it. Where private property reigns the ownership of one's living space, work-space, and just about every other space by capitalists the property poor individual is perpetually constrained. Suburbs conceal alienation from nature and other human beings as well as the lack of power that suburbanites exercise over their own lives at home and at work.

The separate ownership of living and working spaces divides opposition to Capital into labor and rent struggles. On the other hand, the illusion of homeownership (getting bank loans to buy a house) gave millions of workers a vested interest in the system of private property, and diffused any potential struggle against landlords. This has resulted in community action to protect the property values in a given area. Workers have organized to keep other workers out of their neighborhoods. When millions of blacks moved to northern cities, white neighborhoods tried to prevent blacks from moving into their neighborhoods in order to protect their property values. This "community" action" is in many cases the action of illusory communities. The average suburbanite or city dweller doesn't know many of her neighbors. When she chooses to take community action to protect her property value, this is a "community" connection based on money, and seldom on direct human connections.

While Haussmann's Paris served to create an image of the capitol of a powerful empire, city revitalization projects create an image of the new "beautified" city that is sold to us under the guise of community pride. In both of these examples this was achieved through the displacement of the poor. The "community" is sold to us with citywide celebrations, city fairs or official Millennium celebrations. The State and the media help create and perpetuate these imagined communities, that is, communities which lack commonality based on direct human relations but are instead based on an abstract conception of common identity, the most obvious example of this is the Nation. Capitalism destroys human connections but it replaces this vacuum with imagined communities.

Haussmann built boulevards to prevent the construction of barricades and completely destroyed the neighborhoods where insurrection was most likely to occur. These neighborhoods reappeared in a different form in the suburbs. North American suburbs are built so that few direct relationships of the sort that Haussmann paved over ever develop. Communication is as much a threat to state control as barricades. In the suburbs, houses are far from shopping areas, places to socialize, and work places. Meanwhile the suburbanite is sold the idea that she likes this on TV, and is bought off with excessive consumption. The suburbanite is lost alone in a labyrinth of reflections. Unable to find anyone to discuss anything of substance with, she is left with only images for companions. While the suburbs were being designed to placate and stupefy, the inner cities were becoming increasingly marginalized economically. Haussmann destroyed slums to prevent insurrection, but in the U.S. slums sprouted up right in the shadow of the American dream. During the Rodney King Riots, suburbanites watched the adventure on TV.


Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Trans. Eliand, Howard and McLaughlin, Kevin Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity Cambridge:Blackwell, 1990.

Rice, Shelley. Parisian Views. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1997.

Fixed Abodes

Fixed abodes

Domestication and sedentization are not processes that were only imposed on "primitive" peoples; these processes occurred in Europe as well. Latin American nomads and European vagabonds experienced similar repression but by different means. Missions and prisons served similar functions: they settled the roamers and put them to work. Now, there are many all too familiar ways to regulate or fix movement. Here in the US, incarceration rates are skyrocketing. The computerization of biometrics is a new weapon in the State’s arsenal that greatly increases the accuracy with which they can identify human beings: this facilitates incarceration and immigration control. The above technologies and institutions of control share a common aim: to regulate movement and direct human action into the repetitive rotation of production and consumption.

Domestication in Latin America

Throughout Latin America during the colonial period Spanish style towns and cities were built with a central plaza, church and municipal building. American settlement patterns had been generally much more dispersed than Spanish towns. The Colonial administration forcibly concentrated dispersed settlements into such towns (reducciones). Once in towns it was much easier for individuals to be reduced to subjects of the crown and coerced into giving tribute.

The Missions settled, converted and hispanicized previously nomadic or semi-nomadic groups. They also eliminated hunting and gathering in order to enforce the production of a substantial agricultural surplus. (Hu de Hart 1981: 36) This system destroyed the economic autonomy that was based in hunting and gathering and attempted to instill the discipline of daily work, so that residents would produce with less resistance. One crucial aspect of this was the imposition of the time of the mission bell and the Christian work week. Obviously profit cannot be maximized if workers are left to work on their own time. The logic of productivity needs to organize time as well as space.

Apache warfare and raiding were very successful and managed to repel Spaniards from a 250 mile area, near the present day Mexico-US border. The Colonial administration had still not gained control of this area in 1821, at the time of independence. The Spaniards simply could not dominate the Apache militarily. Apaches were familiar with the area and traveled on horseback, they often raided Spanish settlements and

disappeared without a trace. Colonial policies with regards to nomadic and semi-nomadic people always made sedentization a priority for this very reason. How could they control or exploit people that they can't even find?

After all else had failed, the Spanish administration lured some Apaches into "Peace Establishments" (settlements near presidios) in 1786 by simply promising them weekly rations. One interesting difference between these settlements and Missions is that these settlements were a financial loss to the crown, they did not manage to exploit residents except when males were forced to serve militarily. That is, in this case control was more important to them than exploitation. They resorted to this method because Apaches simply would not submit to settling in missions. Residents of these settlements were forbidden from traveling beyond 30 miles from settlements unless authorized and were required to carry passports in those cases. (Griffin 1988: 99) But this law was often ignored and Apaches continued to travel where they wished. Apaches were encouraged to use guns instead of bows and arrows so that they would be dependent on the market for the acquisition of gun-powder, and they were encouraged to use liquor for the same reason. These measures were moderately successful for 25 years. But when rations started to dwindle raiding increased and when the Mexicans ran out of rations in 1833, the situation returned to that of 1770 with as many Apaches roaming and raiding as before the "Peace Establishments" were built. (Worcester) In short, these measures failed, the nomadic Apache continued to elude the Spanish. These Apaches fiercely resisted domestication and refused to settle down permanently. Only later, Mexico and the US finally forced to settle or exterminated them but this achieved only after a long struggle.

Reducciones, Missions and 'Peace Establishments" all put residents where they were locatable so that they would be more easily exploitable. The vagabonds of Europe were as much a threat to the powerful as the nomads and semi-nomads of Latin America, they were therefore also submitted to regimes of domestication. While the residents of Missions were converted to Christianity while they were taught the discipline of daily labor, European vagabonds were forced out of idleness while enclosed within four walls.

Confinement and European Domestication

During the early 1600s the first "houses of confinement" were built in Europe, to still the wandering and to put the idle to work.

In 1607 an ordinance called the archers to the gates of Paris to shoot at any vagabonds or beggars who dared try to enter the city. In 1656 the Hopital General was created, this was more a prison than a hospital and it was used to confine the idle, the vagabonds, beggars, sick and insane. Its openly claimed aim was to prevent idleness. The edict of 1657 was a vagrancy law that was enforced by archers who herded people into the Hospital. This is an interesting mutation of the 1607 policy and an example of an increasing reliance on confinement. These changes in punishment corresponded with an increasing social instability due to a growth in unemployment and a decrease in wages. This instability created an increased mobility of classes. In response to these changes there were three large uprisings in Paris in the early 1600s and guilds were formed in many trades. Obviously this new emphasis on confinement did not disappear with the end of this particular economic crisis. Confinement continued to be used as a source of cheap manpower after the crisis. In subsequent periods of unemployment it was again used as a weapon against social agitation and uprisings.

It is noteworthy that the first houses of confinement in England, France and Germany were built in the most industrialized cities of those countries. In England houses of confinement were opened in 1610 to occupy the pensioners of certain mills and weaving and carding shops. This was done during a recession, in other words, in a time where there was a high risk of rebellion. Industrialization had a great impact on class structure, it created new classes and thus allowed for individuals to change class. It also created new particularly appalling working conditions. As I have mentioned these drastic changes were, not surprisingly, met with resistance and revolt. Confinement was either a response to revolt or a means to prevent violent resistance to industrialization and its results. The history of confinement and other institutions or technologies of control is not a one-way linear process of increasing repression but a series of jumps, a conflict ridden complex of resistances and the state's responses to resistance.

Measuring Life: Biometrics

Identification is a key technology of control used to keep immigrants out and supposed "criminals" locked in. Computerized biometrics are now the most effective technologies of identification. Finger printing is an older form of biometrics. The Human Genome Project is trying to map out the genes of every citizen of Iceland and put this information into a database. This leads us towards a world in which, according to the system, the most valuable thing about the human body is the digital data which it provides.

Biometrics are being used to restrict access to anything from a building to the nation-state. It is useful to know what specific technologies they are using against us. For example, Iris scanning is a very accurate technology of identification but luckily it has its limitations. It is less effective when used on people with very dark brown eyes. This is a very fortunate coincidence in countries like the US and Britain with racist cops! Retina scanning, on the other hand is said to be infallible. "Counterfeit resistant" Laser ID cards are used by the US INS for Green Cards and for the Department of State’s Border Crossing Card. The EU is considering using this technology as well. Their spread to Europe would be tragic news for illegal immigrants. Data (biological and other wise) which is written onto the Laser Card’s optical memory cannot be altered, therefore it is nearly impossible to forge this technology. This technology is obviously a vast improvement over the passports given to Apaches in the late 1700s, those passports were easy to forge. However, it is fitting that the Apaches resisted this technology not by forging it but by ignoring it and traveling beyond the areas controlled by Spanish. Unfortunately there are now fewer deserts to roam where such things can be ignored, but such places do still exist. The combined use of these technologies and increased surveillance (such as the millions of dollars budgeted for wiretapping in the 2000 Federal Budget) are of great benefit to the budding prison industrial complex.

These technologies give those in power more effective means to keep people in their designated place in the world of sanity: the measured, disciplined, educated, treated, productive world that functions according to the logics of capital and the state. There are always those who escape, defy or resist these logics, this is precisely why the state goes to such lengths to contain us. They are used in tracking systems that give governments and companies the means to find people and put them where they are ‘useful’ to the powerful, such as within the prison industrial complex, or to exclude people from access to privileged domains (gated communities, company buildings, rich countries etc.). While restrictions on human movement are increasing, restrictions on the movement of capital are diminishing. However, the free movement of individuals has always been a threat to productivity; these new technologies are merely a more efficient means to achieve the same repressive goal. They are used to prevent us from acting on our desires unless our desires have become perverted and trapped within the cycle of production and consumption. Reducciones, missions, "Peace Establishments" and confinement were and are all forms of rationalization: they fix and contain human bodies

The free movement of individuals has always been a threat to productivity, the willfully idle vagabond uses mobility to escape the grind of work and the wandering worker can use mobility as an advantage over his boss. The free movement through space is a threat to the state because it threatens any control over space. Complete free movement through space would not only threaten the nation-state but all private property. Mobility is our power.


Griffen, William B. Apaches at War and Peace. University of New Mexico: Albuquerque.

Hu De-Hart, Evelyn. Adaptacion y Resistencia en el Yaquimi. Traduccion Zulai Marcela Fuentes Ortega. Mexico City: 1995.

Rabinow, Paul ed. The Foucault Reader. New York:Random House, 1984.

Worcester, Donald E. The Apache. University of Oklahoma: Norman, 1979.

Freedom and Obsession, both by Albert Libertad


By Albert Libertad

Many think that it is a simple dispute over words that makes some declare themselves libertarians and others anarchist. I have an entirely different opinion.

I am an anarchist and I hold to the label not for the sake of a vain garnishing of words, but because it means a philosophy, a different method than that of the libertarian.

The libertarian, as the word indicates, is an adorer of liberty. For him, it is the beginning and end of all things. To become a cult of liberty, to write its name on all the walls, to erect statues illuminating the world, to talk about it in season and out, to declare oneself free of hereditary determinism when its atavistic and encompassing movements make you a slave...this is the achievement of the libertarian.

The anarchist, referring simply to etymology, is against authority. That’s exact. He doesn’t make liberty the causality but rather the finality of the evolution of his Self. He doesn’t say, even when it concerns merest of his acts. "I am free." but "I want to be free". For him, freedom is not an entity, a quality, something that one has or doesn’t have, but is a result that he obtains to the degree that he obtains power.

He doesn’t make freedom into a right that existed before him, before human beings but a science that he acquires, that humans acquire, day after day, to free themselves of ignorance, abolishing the shackles of tyranny and property.

Man is not free to act or not to act, by his will alone. He learns to do or not to do when he has exercised his judgement, enlightened his ignorance, or destroyed the obstacles that stand in his way. So if we take the position of a libertarian, without musical knowledge in the front of his piano, is he free to play? NO! He won’t have this freedom until he has learned music and to play the instrument. This is what the anarchists say. He also struggles against the authority that prevents him from developing his musical aptitudes-when he has them-or he who withholds the pianos. To have the freedom to play, he has to have the power to know and the power to have a piano at his disposition. Freedom is a force that one must know how to develop within the individual; no one can grant it.

When the Republic takes its famous slogan: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite." does it make us free, equal or brothers? She tells us "You are free" these are vain words since we do not have the power to be free. And why don’t we have this power? Principally because we do not know how to acquire the proper knowledge. We take the mirage for reality.

We always await the freedom of a State, of a Redeemer, of a Revolution, we never work to develop it within each individual. What is the magic wand that transforms the current generation born of centuries of servitude and resignation into a generation of human beings deserving of freedom, because they are strong enough to conquer it?

This transformation will come from the awareness that men will have of not having freedom of consciousness, that freedom is not in them, that they don’t have the right to be free, that they are not all born free and equal...and that it is nevertheless impossible to have happiness without freedom. The day that they have this consciousness they will stop at nothing to obtain freedom. This is why anarchists struggle with such strength against the libertarian current that makes one take the shadow for substance.

To obtain this power, it is necessary for us to struggle against two currents that threaten the conquest of our liberty: it is necessary to defend it against others and against oneself, against external and internal forces.

To go towards freedom, it becomes necessary to develop our individuality-When I say: to go towards freedom, I mean for each of us to go toward the most complete development of our Self-. We are not therefore free to take any which road, it is necessary to force ourselves to take the correct path. We are not free to yield to excessive and lawless desires, we are obliged to satisfy them. We are not free to put ourselves in a state of inebriation making our personality lose the use of its will, placing us at the mercy of anything; let’s say rather that we endure the tyranny of a passion that misery of luxury has given us. True freedom would consist of an act of authority upon this habit, to liberate oneself from its tyranny and its corollaries.

I said, an act of authority, because I don’t have the passion of liberty considered a priori. I am not a libertarian. If I want to acquire liberty, I don’t adore it. I don’t amuse myself refusing the act of authority that will make me overcome the adversary that attacks me, nor do I refuse the act of authority that will make me attack the adversary. I know that every act of force is an act of authority. I would like to never have to use force, authority against other men, but I live in the 20th century and I am not free of from the direction of my movements to acquire liberty.

So, I consider the Revolution as an act of authority of some against others, individual revolt as an act of authority of some against others. And therefore I find these means logical, but I want to exactly determine the intention. I find them logical and I am ready to cooperate, if these acts of temporary authority have the removing of a stable authority and giving more freedom as their goal; I find them illogical and I thwart them if their goal isn’t removing an authority. By these acts, authority gains power: she hasn’t done anything but change name, even that which one has chosen for the occasion of its modification.

Libertarians make a dogma of liberty; anarchists make it an end. Libertarians think that man is born free and that society makes him a slave. Anarchists realize that man is born into the most complete of subordinations, the greatest of servitudes and that civilization leads him to the path of liberty.

That which the anarchists reproach is the association of men-society-which is obstructing the road after having guided our first steps. Society delivers hunger, malignant fever, ferocious beasts -evidently not in all cases, but generally- but she makes humanity prey to misery, overwork, and governments. She puts humanity between a rock and a hard place. She makes the child forget the authority of nature to place him under the authority of men.

The anarchist intervenes. He does not ask for liberty as a good that one has taken from him, but as a good that one prevents him from acquiring. He observes the present society and he declares that it is a bad instrument, a bad way to call individuals to their complete development.

The anarchist sees society surround men with a lattice of laws, a net of rules, and an atmosphere of morality and prejudices without doing anything to bring them out of the night of ignorance. He doesn’t have the libertarian religion, liberal one could say but more and more he wants liberty for himself like he wants pure air for his lungs. He decides then to work by all means to tear apart the threads of the lattice, the stitches of the net and endeavors to open up free thought.

The anarchist’s desire is to be able to exercise his faculties with the greatest possible intensity. the more he improves himself, the more experience he takes in, the more he destroys obstacles, as much intellectual and moral as material, the more he takes an open field, the more he allows his individuality to expand, the more he becomes free to evolve and the more he proceeds towards the realization of his desire.

But I won't allow myself to get carried away and I’ll return more precisely to the subject.

The libertarian who doesn’t have the power to carry through an explanation, a critique which he recognizes as well founded or that he doesn’t even want to discuss, he responds "I am free to act like this." The anarchist says: " I think that I am right to act like this but come on." And if the critique made is about a passion which he doesn’t have the strength to free himself from, he will add: " I am under the slavery of this atavism and this habit." This simple declaration won’t be without cost. It will carry its own force, maybe for the individual attacked, but surely for the individual that made it, and for those who are less attacked by the passion in question.

The anarchist is not mistaken about the domain gained. He does not say "I am free to marry my daughter if that pleases me- I have the right to wear a high style hat if it suits me" because he knows that this liberty, this right are a tribute paid to the morality of the milieu, to the conventions of the world; they are imposed by the outside against all desires, against all internal determinism of the individual.

The anarchist acts thus not due to modesty, or the spirit of contradiction, but because he holds a conception which is completely different from that of the libertarian. He doesn’t believe in innate liberty, but in liberty that is acquired. And because he knows that he doesn’t possess all liberties, he has a greater will to acquire the power of liberty.

Words do not have a power in themselves. They have a meaning that one must know well, to state precisely in order to allow oneself to be taken by their magic. The great Revolution has made a fool of us with its slogan: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" the liberals have sung us above all the tune of their "laisser-faire" with the refrain of the freedom of work; Libertarians delude themselves with a belief in a pre-established liberty and they make critiques in its honor...Anarchists should not want the word but the thing. They are against authority, government, economic religious and moral power, knowing the more authority is diminished the more liberty is increased.

It is a relation between the power of the group and the power of the individual. The more the first term of this relation is diminished, the more authority is diminished, the more liberty is increased.

What does the anarchist want? To reach a state in which these two powers are balanced, where the individual has real freedom of movement without ever hindering the liberty of movement of another. The anarchist does not want to reverse the relation so that his freedom is made of the slavery of others, because he knows that authority is bad in itself, as much for he who submits to it as for he who gives it.

To truly know freedom, one must develop the human being until one makes sure that no authority has the possibility of existing.


By Albert Libertad

Durand, leaving his hotel, a smile of contentment on his lips, took a small step back, to read a tiny poster:

While we perish in the street,

the bourgeois has palaces to live in

Death to the bourgeois!

Long Live Anarchy!

Then, he sneered, and yelled to the concierge "You will take these idiocies off of the door"

And his calm smile came back when he noticed, glorious in their incapacity, two officers on the beat. But he stopped at the same time as them, red flyers stuck out on the stark white of the wall:

Cops are the bulldogs of the bourgeois

Death to cops!

Long Live Anarchy!

The cops used their nails to scratch off the posters and Durant left anxious. While at the corner of the avenue, he heard the sound of bugles and drums and from afar two battalions appeared. He felt protected and breathed a sigh of relief.

As a troupe passed in front of him, he discovered; at that moment, like a flight of butterflies, a multitude of squares of paper floating in the air; indifferently, he read:

The army is the school of crime

Long Live Anarchy!

Some of the papers fell on the soldiers, others covered them; his obsession resumed, he felt crushed by the light butterflies.

When he sat down in his usual place to have a beer or the usual aperitif, on the table laid another flyer:

Go on, gorge yourself, the day will come when hate will turn us into cannibals.

Long Live Anarchy!

He sneered, but this time he didn’t fill up saucer after saucer.

Getting up, he headed quickly toward the corner of X street, where the exploiters asked for workers and mechanically searched for the propaganda poster, he discovered it and read:

The exploiter Thing or Machine asks for your sons to degrade them,

Your daughters to rape them, you and your wives

to exploit you

Watch out Parisians.

Long Live Anarchy!

He shook his head and headed towards his office. He read on a plaque: Durand and Cie, Society in a capitol of two million, but, below, the exasperating critique said its piece:

Capital is the product of work

stolen and accumulated by the idle.

Long Live Anarchy!

He tore himself away quickly. He took care of some business, and to distract himself, thought of seeing his mistress. On his way, he bought a bouquet of flowers to offer her.

She smiled, seeing amidst the flowers what appeared to be a love letter:

"Some verses, now, says she?"

Prostitution is the outlet of too many bourgeois.

One turns the son of the poor man into a slave and his daughter into a courtesan.

Long Live Anarchy!

She threw the bouquet in his face and sent him away.

Ashamed and tired, he returned home, the door had once again taken on its usual appearance.

Now, upon entering the living room, his wife said to him: "Look at this vase that I just bought, what an occasion." He took it, turned it around, and turned it around again; a piece of paper fell out:

The luxury of the bourgeois is paid for by the blood of the poor man.

Long Live Anarchy!

This "Long Live Anarchy!" and its harsh claims, all this hovered around him, and that very evening, he didn’t see go to see his wife, in fear of finding, in a discreet and camouflaged place, a flyer where he would have read:

Marriage is legal prostitution.

Long Live Anarchy!

Le Libertaire


The Persistent Refusal of Paradise by Penelope Nin


by Penelope Nin

It is rumored that we (a "we" not well-defined whose lack of definition suits the rumor-mongers) have nothing to do with anarchism, being in reality nihilists disguised for the purpose of penetrating into the sanctuary of anarchy with bad intentions. It is noted that one who takes up the task of guarding the temple ends up seeing thieves everywhere, and maybe the hour has come to quiet "our" troubled detractors.

First of all, they must explain what they mean by nihilism. Personally, I view anyone who extols the joys of nihilism to me with suspicion because I consider nihilism, as the substantiation of nothing, to be a deception. When the incompleteness of all is cultivated with a feeling of fullness, it is difficult to resist the temptation to replace the old absolute with its most abstract moment in which nothing is immediately transformed into all and is therefore totalized. Ultimately, nihilism seems to me to be a crafty form of reasoning, that drives the whole structure of knowledge into the darkness of Nothingness only to receive, through this spectacular, radical negation, still more of the light of the All.

But probably the rumored "nihilism" consists of something much simpler, that is, of a supposed absence of proposals. In other words, one is nihilistic when one persistently refuses to promise a future earthly paradise, to foresee its functioning, to study its organization, to praise its perfection. One is nihilistic when, instead of taking and valuing all the moments of relative freedom offered by this society, one radically negates it, preferring the drastic conclusion that none of it is worth saving. Finally, one is nihilistic when, instead of proposing something constructive, one’s activity comes down to an " obsessive exultation of the destruction of this world." If this is the argument, it is, indeed a meager one.

To begin, anarchism—the Idea—is one thing, and the anarchist movement—the ensemble of men and women who support this Idea—is another. It makes no sense to me to say of the Idea what in reality only a few anarchists assert. The Idea of anarchism is the absolute incompatibility between freedom and authority. From this it follows that one can enjoy total freedom in the complete absence of Power. Because Power exists and has no intention of disappearing voluntarily, it will be necessary indeed to create a way to eliminate it. Correct me if I’m mistaken.

I don’t understand why such a premise, which no anarchist "nihilist" has ever dreamed of denying and suppressing, must lead necessarily to postulating new social regulations. I don’t understand why, in order to "be part" of the anarchist movement, one must first undergo a doctoral examination in the architecture of the new world, and why it isn’t enough to love freedom and hate every form of authority with all that entails. All this is not only absurd from the theoretical point of view, but also false from the historical point of view (and the anarchist rumor-mongers show so much fervor for History). One of the points about which Malatesta and Galleani clashed regularly was precisely the question of whether it was necessary to plan what would be created after the revolution or not. Malatesta argued that anarchists must begin immediately to develop ideas of how to organize social life because it doesn’t allow for interruption; Galleani, on the other hand, argued that the task of anarchists was the destruction of this society, and that future generations that are immune to the logic of domination will figure out how to rebuild. In spite of these differences, Malatesta did not accuse Galleani of being nihilist. To make such an accusation would have been gratuitous because their difference was only over the constructive aspect of the question; they agreed completely about the destructive aspect. Though this is omitted by many of his exegetes, Malatesta was, indeed, an insurrectionalist, a confirmed supporter of a violent insurrection capable of demolishing the state.

Today, however, one merely needs to point out that anyone who holds power does not give up their privileges voluntarily and draw the due conclusions to be accused of nihilism. Within the anarchist movement, as everywhere, times change. Whereas once the debate among anarchists dealt with the way of conceiving the revolution, today it seems that all discussion centers around the way to avoid it. What other purpose could all these disquisitions on self-government, libertarian municipalism, or the blessed utopia of good sense have? It is clear that once one rejects the insurrectional project as such, the destructive hypothesis begins to assume frightful contours. What was only an error to Malatesta—limiting oneself to the demolition of the social order—for many present-day anarchists represents a horror.

When pious souls hear the bark of a dog, they always think that a ferocious wolf is coming. For them the blowing of the wind becomes an approaching tornado. In the same way, to anyone who has entrusted the task of transforming the world to persuasion alone, the word destruction is upsetting to the mind, evoking painful and unpleasant images. These things make a bad impression on the people who, if they are to be converted and finally flock into the ranks of reason, must have a religion that promises an Eden of peace and brotherhood. Whether it deals with paradise, nirvana or anarchy is of little importance. And anyone who dares to place such a religion into question cannot be thought of as simply a non-believer. In the course of things, such a person must be presented as a dangerous blasphemer.

And this is why "we" (but who is this "we"?) are called "nihilists". But the nihilism in all this, what is the point?

From Thought into the Unknown

From Thought into the unknown

How is thought cut from its root?

When we think of the imagination what comes to mind? We might think of human creativity at its source, of a living and thinking person. We also might think of the imaginary, a realm that is separate from this world we live in, daydreams that are divorced from our lives: fantasies that serve only as escape mechanisms, fantasies that are filled with mass media produced images of other planets, green aliens with 14 fingers, or sex with bionic humanoids with geometric silicone features. The word imagination has been corroded along with its root word: the image. The images that confront us everyday appear to have no human origin. They are created for the market, and have the qualities of the market, they leave little trace of their human creators. When we see an ad for Apple computers we do not think of the person who put the advertising image together. That person is probably thousands of miles away. That distant worker expressed little of their personality in the image they created. So, as was intended, we think only of apple computers. That image was the expression of a thwarted and recuperated creative impulse of someone sitting an office far away. Creativity that increases one’s own life possibilities is now rarely respected. When someone comes up with a particularly inventive idea, people have the gall to say, "you should market that". Capitalism is such an effective system because it so effectively channels and uses human creativity for its own aims. In the process, it reduces creativity to as colorless a process as the money transaction. It reduces the individuality of creativity to a minimum. This uniformity is also a result of the monotony of life in a society filed with mass produced objects, images and spaces; as life becomes more uniform thought follows closely behind.

The fact that the imaginary can be thought of as divorced from an imagining subject reflects the degree to which the fragmentation we experience in our daily lives has implanted itself in our very thought process. When every creative impulse has been severed from its subjective source and channeled into the markets of technological and cultural production, when there is no one to share our insights with because only marketed creativity is given a place to be seen or heard, there is no need for censorship. This dismembering results in thoughts that lead away from the subject, it crushes the will, produces atomized desires for commodities, and results in actions that do not expand our own lives but the life of the vampire that feeds upon us. Instead of increasing our own power, our thoughts lead us to travel a straight line between the place where we puke out fuel for the market, stop by supermarket to buy its refuse, and go home where we eat its shit. In order to interrupt this process it is necessary to change our very thought process, we need to reconnect thought to its source: the thinking subject. In order to do so we must expel the poltergeists that haunt us, poltergeists that bear a suspicious resemblance to those in a Steven Spielberg movie.

For thought to become an instrument to the expansion of one’s life projectuality, it is helpful to find others with whom to speak a language other than that of the market, with whom one can explore life’s possibilities outside the limited choices offered by capital. If there is no language with which to express ones thoughts, and no one to speak to, thought will not be a sharpened tool but a dull implement. In this society, one who along with a few likeminded companions aims to increase life’s potential, will quickly run into obstacles in her path. This society is a maze of barriers to anyone that wishes to function outside of it, anyone who wishes to live by their own rhythm and not that of the clock. To destroy the obstacles to our own expansion we need all of the tools we can get; we need both ideas and fire.

Where do we go from here? The utopian imagination

To move towards the destruction of this society and the creation of new relations, we need to have a clear conception of how to proceed from here, but we do not need a concrete model of where we will end up. Although any future world would contain traces or ruins of this society, that world may be beyond our present capacity to imagine. It is important to ask ourselves whether or not an idea increases or decreases our possibilities. When does an idea become a fossilized model that limits us? Utopian visions can be useful openings out of the present order but they can also confine us. The Paleolithic has been a useful reference because it breaks us out of the dominant idea that human beings by nature need to create institutions of authority. Living hunter gatherers have also shown us that anarchy is a real possibility, not merely a utopian dream, and that in fact it is most probable that humans lived in anarchy for most of their past. But when we begin to create a utopian image on the specific practices of hunter-gatherers we are creating a primitivist model with inherent limitations; such an image limits our vision of what a future world could be. Besides, it is improbable that people throughout the world during the Paleolithic actually behaved predictably enough for any model to be based on such multifarious relations. Living hunter-gatherers have a variety of types of social relations. What these people have in common is the absence of odious institutions of authority, the absence of exploitation. Beyond that each group has its own characteristics, its own choice of social relations. Perhaps the greatest lesson that living hunter-gatherers as a whole teach us is found in their lack of predictability: a variety of relations that cannot be contained in precise models.

The Machiguenga of the Peruvian amazon are unusual in their strong preference against living in any community larger than the immediate family. When outsiders visit the Machiguenga, it is common for them to explain "no somos muy unidos aqui". They expect outsiders to be surprised that they prefer to live away from concentrated settlements. The Machiguenga are settling in towns more and more often in order to send their children to school and because they are becoming increasingly dependent on iron tools which they need access to outside markets to acquire. In the 70s interviews with Machiguengan town dwellers revealed that most people begrudgingly made this change. Previously most Machiguenga hunted, gathered and farmed with their immediate families. They met up with nearby families for beer feasts and for fishing expeditions. When asked why they preferred not to live in a community they generally had two answers: they had greater access to forest resources in smaller groups, and community living brought unwanted restrictions. The Machiguenga language lacks terms for social categories. Other Amazonian groups have complex political ranking systems but the Machiguenga borrow social terms from nearby groups. They have no term for family. There is a word for kin but only egocentric kin, and they use a borrowed word noshanika or my people for those that live nearby. Some anthropologists have suggested that the Machigenga live in very small groups because of a dispersion that occurred after the epidemics of colonial times. But their lack of social terms suggests that this is not the case. There is no evidence that the Machiguenga ever had political terminology.

The Machiguenga are not only hunter-gatherers (they also farm), and they are certainly no longer "pristine" primitives, but this is not the point. I am offering them as an example that primitive communism may have existed during the Paleolithic but exclusively as an absence of private property. Living peoples show us that in all probability Paleolithic peoples lived in various types of social formations ranging from the more communal to the more dispersed. This is of course all speculation, but the case of the Machiguenga challenges the utopian image of primitive communism, the idea that human beings naturally prefer to live collectively. This idea is a reaction to the fragmentation we experience in a society dominated by capital, we crave the relations we lack and assume the opposite of capitalism is the collective.

Let’s keep the utopian visions that expand our possibilities and discard the rigid models that limit us. To proceed away from the established into the unknown we must have a thought process which is expansive. We must direct our thought back towards its subjective root and away from the scarcity of options dished up for us by capital. To explore life’s possibilities outside these narrow confines we need to have the courage to discard impoverished visions of that which lies beyond the existent.

Civilization and the Creative Urge

I do not accept the concept of an essential "human nature"-of any essential feature that unifies all humans and separates "us" from other creatures. However, I do think that for humans, the full enjoyment of life depends upon creative activity and experimentation by which we transform our environment. We lack speed innate weapons like claws, fangs and horns, etc., but we have a brain capable of imagining amazing things. Clearly the greatest enjoyment in life for the human individual can be found in the least restricted, most open experimentation with one's creative urges.

Unfortunately, much of the anti-technology, anti-civilization tendency has gotten itself entangled in an environmentalist/radical ecologist ideology that condemns the free expression of our creative and experimental urges. In light of the disastrous effects of the technological system, this is an understandable reaction, but that's all it is-a reaction-not an intelligent response. This wedding of anti-civilization theory to radical environmentalist ideology has nearly drowned the possibility of making this theory intelligently in a quagmire of moralism and self-sacrifice. Our creative and experimental urges are to be suppressed and subjected to "Nature"-that metaphysical and very civilized conception we have of that which exists outside of civilization. According to this morality, "natural" is good and "artificial" is evil, and the artificiality of this dichotomy is completely missed. But is our urge to create and experiment to blame for this mess we call civilization? Or is it a victim of constraints that have chained us to a system of authority that suppresses all creativity that it cannot channel into social reproduction?

When self-created interactions between individuals are displaced by social relationships based upon roles which designate functions within a society, it seems inevitable that certain roles would take on increasing responsibility for, and so greater control over, social reproduction. In other words, authority develops. It may well be that authority develops precisely because unconstrained expressions of the urge to create and experiment threaten social stability. In any case, creative energy, though continuing to reside in the individual, no longer belongs to the individual, but rather belongs to society-which, in practise, means the authorities who control that society, who direct this energy, this urge, toward social reproduction.

Technology is a huge system, an entire social landscape, which constrains the creative urge of individuals keeping it in rein. The urge to experiment moves individuals to create tools and methods that allow them to get what they want with the greatest ease or pleasure, but such tools and methods do not make a technological system, because they are in the service of the individual. Within a social context, tools and methods will develop that have nothing to do with fulfilling the wants of individuals as such, but rather serve to reproduce the social context. In order to serve this purpose, they coalesce into a system of interactive and mutually dependent tools and methods. It is this system and its products that can rightly be called technology. Although this system does not exist in order to fulfill the needs of individuals, it does create a dependence within individuals upon it for survival, because this is necessary to keep individuals in thrall to social reproduction. And this survival becomes separated from and ultimately opposed to intense and enjoyable living. (Agriculture doubled the time which had to be dedicated to production of basic needs and put these activities on a strict seasonal time schedule, making them unquestionably work. The industrial revolution drastically increased work time and intensified the rigidity of its schedule.) The tedium produced by this system, which begins by constraining creative energy, finally suppresses it, transforming it into mere productivity. Technology and civilization do not have their origin in the urge to create and experiment, but rather in the need of the authorities to constrain this urge in order to maintain social reproduction and control.

But the civilized social order with its technological material basis cannot completely suppress this experimental, creative urge both because it needs domesticated, channeled creativity in order to reproduce and expand itself, and because some individuals simply do not let their creative urges be completely suppressed. As civilization has expanded into a globally dominant totality, it has become necessary to find a place for these individuals. Art was originally a technology-an integrated system of tools and methods used in the process of social reproduction. It was mostly used in ritual and political propaganda. In the early modern era (the 16th and 17 th centuries), the function of art began to change. Though artists continue, even now, to create works to order for churches and political institutions, as well as for those with the wealth to buy their skill and creativity, art is now generally viewed as area for individual creative expression. Artists imagine that their creative urge has been liberated from its subjection to social reproduction. But this " liberated activity" is only permitted within to exist in a separated, specialized realm, a realm apart from daily life. In their daily lives, artists continue using money, paying rent, usually holding down "straight jobs"-living as assimilated members of society. And what of this separated realm, art? Artists (including poets and musicians) generally view themselves as a creative elite, exhibiting a sense of self-importance that can make them unbearable. This is not just a personality quirk. It goes with the social role of "artist", for although its function has changed, art remains an activity of social reproduction. It maintains creative activity as a realm of specialists-other people may dabble in it as a hobby, but only the "truly creative" few can actually be artists. Thus art produces a tendency in most people to suppress their own creativity as inadequate or to channel it into the production of irrelevant artifacts for passive consumption by the "talentless".

The alienation of individuals from their creative urges that is necessary for the rise and maintenance of civilization has another manifestation. The creative energy that is suppressed comes to be attributed to a "higher realm". Within the context of society as we know it, this energy only seems to express it self very occasionally and in very directed ways. The myriads of tiny, daily expressions of creativity by which we all take back as many moments of our lives as we can are not recognized as creative because they are not separated from life. So it is very easy to attribute creative energy to inspiration, to supposed revelation from a spiritual realm. It is this realm, under the title "god" that is credited as creator-the source of all creation. Our creative, experimental urges are not our own, but allegedly a gift from god to be used in accordance with his/her/its will. Experimentation outside the divinely determined parameters is hubris, arrogance, sin or diabolical crime. Religion (including "spirituality," religion's hipper, mellower face) developed as a means for enforcing the constraints necessary for social reproduction. Within any given social context, what "god" allows will be what is deemed necessary for or helpful to the reproduction of that social context. So, for example, many christians see nuclear weapons as a gift from god, but consider creative methods of theft or unusual sexual practices to be sinful and arrogant. Many radical environmentalists are also religious, embracing neo-pagan or animistic belief systems. In their belief systems, "god" becomes "nature". Hubris consists of creating "against nature". For the followers of these nature religions, much is forbidden that is not forbidden in mainstream religions and vice versa, but both agree that creative energy does not belong to the individual to use as she chooses, but is to be exercised only in service to the deity.

In order to claim that it is possible to use the creative urge "against nature", the radical environmentalist must turn "nature" into a metaphysical entity that we can defy. But "nature" is just a convenient shorthand for the sum of the beings, actions and interactions that make up this world. Therefore, civilization and its technology are not "unnatural". The problem with civilization and the technological system is that they exist only by suppressing the individual urge to create and experiment, forcing it into the narrow conduit of social reproduction. The civilized social system has always been a detriment to the full development of individuals as creators of their own lives and interactions-it has in fact always suppressed this development through a combination of vicious attacks and subtle but thorough manipulation. But now it has reached the point where civilization threatens our health and our very existence and is robbing us quickly of an amazing wealth of diverse interactions by turning the world into a homogenous machine-a machine that may soon have no need for actual creativity at all, but may be able to let it be subsumed completely into productivity and commodity consumption.

The urge to create, explore and experiment most certainly exists in all humans and in many other mammals. It may exist in every living being on some level. Yet many human societies never developed into civilizations with complex technological systems. No other mammal has ever developed such a monstrosity. This shows that the creative urge can be exercised in ways that do not produce such systems. In fact, those of us who want to be able to fully create our lives and interactions as our own, who do not want to spend our lives as cogs in a social machine, and who, therefore, want to destroy this machine in its totality, turning civilization and its technology into ruins, must grasp this urge, this energy, as our own, possibly our most essential weapon in the war against society. Unconstrained creative activity and experimentation in the hands of individuals, used for their own pleasure, does not need to be feared. Such activity did not create the present civilization and will not create any future civilizations. And the destruction of civilization, this system of social control that is smothering the planet, and the creation of our lives and interactions as so completely our own that they cannot be socialized, systematized or otherwise alienated from us will require explorations and experimentations with the possible that go far beyond anything we have yet tried.