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THE REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE - VANEIGEM
Humiliation - Page 10

In a negative sense, Ravachol's bombs or, closer to our own time, the epic of Caraquemada dispel the confusion which reigns around the total rejection -- manifested to a varying extent, but manifested everywhere -- of relationships based on exchange and compromise. I have no doubt, since I have experienced it so many times, that anyone who passes an hour in the cage of constraining relationships feels a profound sympathy for Pierre-François Lacenaire and his passion for crime. The point here is not to make an apology for terrorism, but to recognize it as an action -- the most pitiful action and at the same time the most noble -- which is capable of disrupting and thus exposing the self-regulating mechanisms of the hierarchical social community. Inscribed in the logic of an unlivable society, murder thus conceived can only appear as the concave form of the gift. it is that absence of an intensely desired presence that Mallarmé described; the same Mallarmé who, at the trial of the Thirty, called the anarchists 'angels of purity'.

My sympathy for the solitary killer ends where tactics begin; but perhaps tactics need scouts driven by individual despair. However that may be, the new revolutionary tactics -- which will be based indissolubly on the historical tradition and on the practice, so widespread and so disregarded, of individual realization -- will have no place for people who only want to mimic the gestures of Ravachol or Bonnot. But on the other hand these tactics will be condemned to theoretical hibernation if they cannot, by other means, attract collectively the individuals whom isolation and hatred for the collective lie have already won over to the rational decision to kill or to kill themselves. No murderers -- and no humanists either! The first accept death, the second impose it. let ten men meet who are resolved on the lightning of violence rather than the long agony of survival; from this moment, despair ends and tactics begin. Despair is the infantile disorder of the revolutionaries of everyday life.

I still feel today my adolescent admiration for outlaws, not because of an obsolete romanticism but because they expose the alibis by which social power avoids being put right on the spot. Hierarchical social organization is like a gigantic racket whose secret, precisely exposed by anarchist terrorism, is to place itself out of reach of the violence it gives rise to, by consuming everybody's energy in a multitude of irrelevant struggles. (A 'humanized' power cannot allow itself recourse to the old methods of war and genocide.) The witnesses for the prosecution can hardly be suspected of anarchist tendencies. The biologist Hans Selye states that "as specific causes of disease (microbes, undernourishment) disappear, a growing proportion of people die of what are called stress diseases, or diseases of degeneration caused by stress, that is, by the wear and tear resulting from conflicts, shocks, nervous tension, irritations, debilitating rhythms..." From now on, no-one can escape the necessity of conducting his own investigation into the racket which pursues him even into his thoughts, hunts him down even in his dreams. The smallest details take on a major importance. irritation, fatigue, rudeness, humiliation... cui bono? Who profits by them? And who profits by the stereotyped answers that Big Brother Common Sense distributes under the label of wisdom, like so many alibis? Shall I be content with explanations that kill me when I have everything to win in a game where all the cards are stacked against me?

2

The handshake ties and unties the knot of encounters. A gesture at once curious and trivial which the French quite accurately say is exchanged: isn't it in fact the most simplified form of the social contract? What guarantees are they trying to seal, these hands clasped to the right, to the left, everywhere, with a liberality that seems to make up for a total lack of conviction? That agreement reigns, that social harmony exists, that life in society is perfect? But what still worries us is this need to convince ourselves, to believe it by force of habit, to reaffirm it with the strength of our grip.

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