Focusing: Greece, France and Communism

Everyone agrees. It will explode. A serious or daring air is suitable in the corridors of the Assembly, as if one would have repeated it in the bistro yesterday. One amuses oneself with the estimation of the risks involved. One already itemizes in detail the preventative operations in which the territory is turned into a grid. The festivities of the New Year take on a decisive turn. "This is the last year that there will be oysters!" So that the celebration is not totally eclipsed by the tradition of moral laxity, one must have the 36,000 cops and the 16 helicopters dispatched by [Michele] Alliot-Maria,[1] who -- around the time of the December [2008] student demonstrations -- lay in wait, trembling, for the least sign of Greek contamination. Under the reassuring remarks, one hears, always more clearly, the noise of preparation for open warfare. No one can continue to ignore the open gearing-up for action, cold and pragmatic, which no longer even bothers to present itself as an operation of pacification.

The newspapers conscientiously create lists of the causes of the sudden inquietude. Of course, there is the crisis of explosive unemployment, its jackpot of despair and social plans, the Kerviel and Madoff scandals.[2] There is the weakness of a school system that can no longer produce workers, nor calibrate the citizens, nor even start with the children of the middle class. One says there is the malaise of the youths to whom no political representation corresponds, yet who are good at throwing car-battering-rams upon the free bicycles that one wants to place at their disposition.

Nevertheless, all these subjects of worry must not appear insurmountable to an era in which the predominant mode of government exactly consists in the management of crisis situations. Except that what power confronts is neither a crisis, nor a succession of chronic problems, nor more-or-less expected disorders, but a singular peril: that which now manifests itself is a form of conflict and positions that quite precisely are not manageable.


Everywhere those who are the peril have to pose to themselves questions that are less useless than those concerning the causes and the probabilities of movements and confrontations that, in any case, will take place. Thus the following. How can the Greek chaos resonate in the French situation? Here an upheaval cannot be thought of as a simple transposition of what was produced down there. The global civil war still has loca specificities, and a situation of generalized rioting would provoke a deflagration of another kind here in France.

The Greek rioters have had to deal with a weak State, while they dispose of a strong popularity. One must not forget that only thirty years ago democracy was constituted -- against the regime of the colonels -- from a practice of political violence. This violence, the memory of which isn't so far away, still seems to be an obvious fact for the majority of the Greek people. Even the old farts [les pontes] of the local PS [Parti Socialiste] have handled Molotov cocktails in their youth. On the other hand, classical politics is acquainted with the various people who know quite well how to accommodate themselves to these practices and to propagate their ideological stupidities in the middle of a riot. If it isn't in the street that the Greek battle is decided and ended -- the police are obviously overwhelmed by it -- then its neutralization will be played out elsewhere. Nothing is more exhausting, more is more fatal, than classical politics, with its withered rituals, its thought that does not think, its small closed world.

To desert classical politics signifies the assumption of warfare, which also situates itself on the terrain of language. Or, rather, in the manner in which words, gestures and life are indissolubly linked. If one has expended so much effort in imprisoning on charges of terrorism a few young communist peasants who participated in the redaction of The Coming Insurrection, it hasn't been for a "crime of opinion," but because they might incarnate a manner of keeping their actions and thoughts in the same existence. This is generally not pardoned.

What these people are accused of is not having written something, nor even having materially attacked the sacrosanct flows that irrigate the metropolis. It is that they have, with the thickness of political thought and positions, possibly taken exception to these flows. That an action, here, could make sense according to another consistency of the world than that, desert-like, of the Empire. Anti-terrorism has claimed to attack the possible development of an "association of malfeasants." But what is in fact attacked is the development of the situation. The possibility that, behind every grocer, several bad intentions are hiding, and behind every thought [are] the acts that they name and summon up [appelle]. The possibility of an idea of politics -- anonymous but joinable, disseminated and uncontrollable -- that cannot be arranged within the storerooms of freedom of expression.

There is no longer hardly any doubt that it is the youth who savagely object to power. These last few years -- from the riots in Algeria in the spring of 2001 to those in Greece in the winter of 2008 -- have only been a succession of warnings in this respect. Those who thirty or forty years ago rebelled against the morals of their parents did not fail to reduce this to a new generational conflict, if it isn't merely a foreseeable effect of adolescence.

The only future for a "generation" is to be the preceding one, on a road that invariably leads to the cemetery.

Tradition would like it that everything begins in a "social movement," especially at the moment in which the Left -- not finished with its decomposition -- sanctimoniously seeks to regain credibility for itself on the street. Except that the street is no longer monopolized. One need only see how, with each new student mobilization -- as with everything that it still dares to support -- the Left is a grave that does not cease to be dug between its whining demands and the level of violence and determination of the movement.

We must make a trench of this graveyard.

If we see "social movements" arise and fall in succession, obviously leaving nothing behind, strength lies in ascertaining that something persists through them. A trail of gunpowder binds what at each event is not made to march by the absurd temporality of the rescinding of some law or some other pretext. By fits and starts, and in its rhythm, we see something like a force that is expanding itself. A force that will not submit to its times, but will impose them, silently.

There is no longer time to foresee the collapses or to demonstrate the joyous possibilities in them. Whether they come sooner or later, one must prepare oneself for them. One need not make a schema for what an insurrection must be, but restore the possibility of upheaval to what it has never ceased to be: a vital impulse of the young as much as working class [populaire] wisdom. On the condition that one knows how to move within upheavals, the absence of a schema is not an obstacle, but an opportunity. For the insurgents, it is the only space that can guarantee the essential for them: keeping the initiative. It remains to build -- to maintain as one maintains a fire -- a certain posture [regard], a certain tactical fever that, when the moment comes, even now, reveals itself to be determinant and a constant source of determination. Already certain questions arise, questions that even yesterday could appear to be grotesque or out of date. It remains to seize them, not so as to respond to them definitively, but to make them live. To have posed them again is not the least merit of the Greek upheaval.

How does a situation of generalized rioting become an insurrectional situation? What to do, once the street is established, since the police have been durably defeated there? Do the parliaments still merit being taken by force? What does deposing power locally mean in practice? How does one decide? How to subsist? How to re-find oneself?

In France, our most exalted socialist bureaucrats were only austere infiltrators of assemblies, ice-cold men in charge. Here, everything cooperates in the annihilation of the least form of political intensity. Which means that one can always oppose the citizen to the rioter [au casseur]. And to draw upon a bottomless reservoir of artificial opposition: users [of services] against strikers; anti-blockaders against the takers of hostages; brave people against the riffraff. A quasi-linguistic operation that goes hand-in-hand with quasi-military measures. The riots of November 2005[3] and, in a different context, the social movements of the autumn of 2007 have furnished examples of this procedure. The image of the malicious students of Nanterre applauding -- with cries of "Go Blues!"[4] -- the expulsion of their classmates by the police thus only gives us a slight hint of what the future reserves for us.

It goes without saying that the attachment of the French people to the State -- guarantor of universal values, last rampart against disaster -- is a pathology that is complicated to get rid of. It is especially a fiction that can no longer last. Each day and a little more each time, our governors themselves consider the State to be a useless encumbrance, because they at least assume the burden of the conflict militarily. Who no longer have any reluctance to send elite anti-terrorist units to subdue riots in the banlieus, as well as to liberate a sorting center occupied by its salaried employees. To the extent that the providential State breaks itself, the crude confrontation between those who desire the Order and those who no longer want it will take place. All that French politics achieves even here -- as far as disactivation -- is in the process of breaking free. The State will not be delivered from all that it has repressed. One can count on the coming movement to find -- at the advanced level of society's decomposition -- the necessary nihilist breath. Which will not fail to expose this movement to all the other limits.

A revolutionary movement does not spread through contamination, but by resonance. Something that constitutes itself here resounds with the shock wave emitted by something that is constituted over there. The body resounds with the deed according to its own mode. An insurrection is not an extension of a plague or a forest fire, which is a linear process that spreads little by little from an initial spark. Rather, an insurrection is something that takes form [prend corps] like a piece of music, of which the hearth -- even when dispersed in time and space -- manages to impose the rhythm of its own vibrations. To always become thicker. To the point that any return to normalcy cannot be desirable or even envisioned.

When we speak of the Empire, we are naming the dispositions of the power that -- preventively, surgically -- reserves [for itself] all of the revolutionary becomings of a situation. In this, the Empire is not an enemy who faces us. It is a rhythm that imposes itself: a manner of making reality arise and then ebb away. Thus, it is less an ordering of the world than its sad, heavy and military flowing [ecoulement].

What we expect from the party of the insurgents is the opening of a completely different composition, a completely different side of the real, which from Greece to the French banlieus seeks its accords.

* * *

Henceforth it will be well-known to the public that situations of crisis are also occasions for domination to restructure itself. Thus, Sarkozy can -- without having the air of lying too much -- announce that the financial crisis corresponds to "the end of a world," and that the year 2009 will see France enter into a new era. This bullshit economic crisis will in sum be a novelty, the occasion for a beautiful epic that will see us, all together, combating inequalities as well as climate change. Which, for our generation -- precisely born during the crisis and that only knows crisis (economic, financial, social and ecological crisis) -- is something relatively difficult to admit, you will confess. Do not speak to us of the weight [coup] of the crisis, of the "we will begin again at zero" and "it will be sufficient if we tighten our belts for a while." To tell the truth, the announcement of the disastrous unemployment rate provokes no sentiment among us. Crisis is a way of governing. When this world no longer seems to hold except through the infinite management of its own downfall.

One would like to see us behind the State, mobilized, in solidarity with society's patching up. But we are so disgusted by joining such a mobilization that it could very well be that we decide to definitively destroy capitalism instead.

What one finds in war are not various ways of managing society. Ideas of happiness and such ways are irreducible and irreconcilable. Power knows this, as we do. The militant residues who see us -- always more numerous, always less identifiable -- pull out their hair in their attempts to make us return to the little compartments in their little heads. And yet they hold out their arms, so as to better suffocate us with their failures, their paralysis, their debilitated problematics. "Transitional" elections will never be anything more than things that, each time, distance us a little further from the possibility of communism. Fortunately, one doesn't accommodate oneself to betrayals or disappointments for long.

The past has given us so many bad responses that we now know that it is the questions themselves that are bad.

Thus, there is no choice between the fetishism of spontaneity and control by the Organization; the bricolage of the militant networks or the rod wielded by hierarchy; acting desperately now or waiting desperately for a while longer; or putting between parentheses what is to be lived and experienced here and now in the name of a paradise that, by dint of receding always further and further way, more and more resembles a hell or stewing over the cadaver by dint of persuading oneself that planting carrots will suffice to bring us out of this nightmare.

Too little to choose from.

The Organizations are obstacles to organizing ourselves.

In truth, there is no gap between what we are, what we do and what we become. The organizations, be they political or unionist, fascist or anarchist, always begin by practically separating out these aspects of existence. They amuse themselves by presenting their stupid formalism as the only remedy to such separations. To organize ourselves is not to give a structure to impotence. Above all organizing ourselves is tying together all the links, links that are not neutral, links that are terribly oriented. The degree of organization is measured by the intensity of the material and spiritual sharing.

From now on: "To organize ourselves materially for subsistence and materially to attack." That one elaborates a new idea of communism everywhere. In the shadows of the bars, the printshops, the squats,[5] the stairwells, the farms and the sport halls, offensive complicities can be born. Complicities to which the world suddenly takes like a better-supported turn. It is not necessary to refuse these precious collusions the means that they require for the deployment of their force.

Here is where the veritably revolutionary possibilities of the era are. The rash, more and more frequent undertakings are so frightening that they present, each time, the occasion for complicities of this type, sometimes ephemeral, sometimes ever-lasting. Assuredly, here there is a kind of process of accumulation. At the moment in which thousands of young people take to heart the desertion and sabotage of this world, it is necessary to be as stupid as a cop to seek among them some kind of financial cell, a leader or carelessness.

* * *

Two centuries of capitalism and market nihilism have ended up at the most extreme strangeness, [strange] to itself, to others, to the world. The fiction of the individual decomposes with the same speed that it becomes real. Children of the metropolis, we make this wager: it is from the most profound despoilment of existence that the possibility of communism -- always killed off, always conjured up -- deploys itself.

Definitively, it is with an anthropology that we are at war. With the very idea of man.

Thus communism, as presupposition and as experiment. Sharing a sensibility and elaborating sharing. The conspicuousness of the commune and the construction of a force. Communism as the matrix of a meticulous and audacious assault against domination. As appeal [to] and as name for all the worlds resistant to imperial pacification, all the solidarities that are not reducible to the reign of the commodity, all the friendships that assume the burden of war. COMMUNISM. We know that this is a term that one must use with caution. Not for the reason that, in the great parade of words, it is no longer fashionable. But because our worst enemies have ruined it and they continue to do so. We insist. Certain words are like battlefields, the meaning of which is a revolutionary or reactionary victory, necessarily won in struggle.

(Signed by the Invisible Committee, January 2009. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2009.)

[1] The French Minister of the Interior, who is charged with assuring domestic social peace.

[2] Jerome Kerviel (French) and Bernie Madoff (American), perpetrators of the two of the biggest banking scams in the history of capitalism.

[3] For more on the November 2005 riots, see the text by Les Amis de Nemesis.

[4] The "Blues" are the French national soccer team.

[5] English in original.

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