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THE REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE - VANEIGEM
Suffering - Page 21

Hierarchical social organization is like a system of hoppers lined with sharp blades. While it flays us alive power cleverly persuades us that we are flaying each other. It is true that to limit myself to writing this is to risk fostering a new fatalism; but I certainly intend in writing it that nobody should limit himself to reading it.

*

Altruism is the other side of the coin of 'hell-is-other-people'; only this time mystification appears under a positive sign. Let's put an end to this old soldier crap once and for all! For others to interest me I must first find in myself the energy for such an interest. What binds me to others must grow out of what binds me to the most exuberant and demanding part of my will to live; not the other way round. It is always myself that I am looking for in other people; my enrichment, my realization. let everyone understand this and 'each for himself' taken to its ultimate conclusion will be transformed into 'all for each'. The freedom of one will be the freedom of all. A community which is not built on the demands of individuals and their dialectic can only reinforce the oppressive violence of power. The Other in whom I do not find myself is nothing but a thing, and altruism leads me to the love of things, to the love of my isolation.

Seen from the viewpoint of altruism, or of solidarity, that altruism of the left, the sentiment of equality is standing on its head. What is it but the common anguish of associates who are lonely together, humiliated, fucked up, beaten, deprived, contented together, the anguish of unattached particles, hoping to be joined together, not in reality, but in a mystical union, any union, that of the Nation or that of the Labour Movement, it doesn't matter which so long as it makes you feel like those drunken evenings when we're all pals together? Equality in the great family of man reeks of the incense of religious mystification. You need a blocked-up nose to miss the stink.

For myself, I recognize no equality except that which my will to live according to my desires recognizes in the will to live of others. Revolutionary equality will be indivisibly individual and collective.

4

The perspective of power has only one horizon: death. And life goes to this well of despair so often that in the end it falls in and drowns. Wherever the fresh water of life stagnates, the features of the drowned man reflect the faces of the living: the positive, looked at closely, turns out to be negative, the young are already old and everything we are building is already a ruin. In the realm of despair, lucidity blinds just as much as falsehood. We die of not knowing, struck from behind. In addition, the knowledge of the death that awaits us only increases the torture and brings on the agony. The disease of attrition that checks, shackles, forbids our actions, eats us away more surely than a cancer, but nothing spreads the disease like the acute consciousness of this attrition. I remain convinced that nothing could save a man who was continually asked: have you noticed the hand that, with all die respect, is killing you? To evaluate the effect of each tiny persecution, to estimate neurologically the weight of each constraint, would be enough to flood the strongest individual with a single feeling, the feeling of total and terrible powerlessness. The maggots of constraint are spawned in the very depths of the mind; nothing human can resist them.

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