by Achim Szepanski
"There are decades when nothing happens. And there are weeks in which decades happen."
Be it France, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Haiti, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Catalonia or Chile - the uprisings mark the beginning of a new cycle of struggles.
The current Riots open up a political situation with polar agents, insurgent rulers, who, however, are by no means confronted by powerless rulers. "Only then" writes Lenin, "when the 'lower classes' no longer want the old and the 'upper classes' can no longer do it in the old way", would a "government crisis" be suitable to turn into a revolutionary crisis. It will therefore be decisive that the uprisings and crises of capital and state overlap in a specific way, or better still that the balance of power shifts in favour of the governed and thus becomes a dangerous ad hoc burden on the system.
However, a systemic crisis can persist at a stable level for some time without being resolved, if the social movements supporting the protests do not oppose the rulers with specific programmes or demands, the fulfilment of which would restore normality. The movements seem not to be satisfied with the fulfilment of demands, they are extremely opposed to certain reforms, but they do not try to decisively challenge the state apparatus. This in turn creates among the governed a superimposition of heterogeneous voices and a productive chaos that drives rather than inhibits the dynamics of the struggles. The uprisings do not develop according to a diffusionist model, i.e. they do not spread like a liquid across a space, but in the best case they swing from one country to another, become viral and emerge in streams of contagion, as we know from the student movement of 1968. The uprising then feeds itself from itself and, like a long-lasting wave, propels its apex in front of it, accelerating to assume variable tempos. In the best case one would have to deal with the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous and the non-simultaneity of the simultaneous at the level of the world order. But we are not there yet, even though the uprising in Chile, for example, was inspired by the events in Ecuador. At least the Leninist model of the weakest link in the chain no longer seems to play a role in the international imperialist context.
The insurgent movements are characterised in all countries by the lack of a hierarchical structure, there are no leaders, who today are almost the counterpart of teamwork, no social democratic or Leninist programme. and if demands are made, they must be corrected at any time. The new revolts are symptomatic of a historical situation in which heterogeneous inter-classist movements are first of all revealing the devastating social conditions caused by neo-liberal policies in the last thirty years, from privatisation in almost all states to the global financial crisis and European austerity policy.
For a long time, not least through the propaganda of its media, Chile was regarded as a successful example of the neoliberal model, which, depending on the economic situation of a country, is characterized by the privatization of the social, tax cuts for the rich, real wage stagnation and the decline of the welfare state, or the reduction of state expenditure, at the expense of low-income sections of the population and those who do not have access to high wages and/or financial assets and therefore have to go into debt. The austerity policy includes a class specific put option, which now has to exercise the majority of the population in many countries. This policy does not simply favour the rich and the financial elite, but in particular those who have large-scale access to the financial markets and assets, or who own the latter, be it mortgage contracts, loans or derivatives.
In Chile, the neoliberal policies of the Chicago Boys introduced after the fall of Salvador Allende in 1973 and the subsequent murderous wave of oppression of the population were cosmetically softened by the transition to democracy, but the essential characteristics of repressive oligarchic neoliberalism were maintained. Chile had remarkably high growth after 1973; while Chile was still in the center of Latin American countries in terms of GDP per capita during 1960-70, it is now the richest country in Latin America. And Chile was rewarded for its high economic growth by membership in the OECD, a club of rich nations, the first South American country to join it.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the World Bank supported Chile's flexible labour market policy, which consisted of smashing trade unions and imposing a model of corporate bargaining between capitalists and workers, rather than allowing a union as an umbrella organisation. The World Bank praised Chile as a model of transparency and good governance. The brother of the current Chilean president, one of the descendants of one of Chile's richest families, Pinochet's brother became known for introducing a funded pension system as Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, under which workers had to pay compulsory contributions from their wages into a pension fund in order to receive post-retirement pensions based, of course, on the performance of the fund. Pensions were thus financed and capitalised, with exorbitantly high fees that made managers rich. Today, most Chilean pensioners receive $200-300 per month in a country whose price level is about 80% of that of the United States.
Chile leads Latin America in GDP per capita, but also in social inequality. In 2015, income inequality was higher than in any other Latin American country except Colombia and Honduras. It even exceeded Brazil's high social inequality. The lower 5% of the Chilean population have an income level similar to that of the lower 5% in Mongolia, while the upper 2% enjoy an income level similar to that of the upper 2% in Germany.
The distribution of income in Chile is therefore extremely unequal, but it is outperformed by the distribution of wealth. According to Forbes' 2014 figures, the total assets of Chilean billionaires (there were twelve) amount to 25% of Chile's GDP. The next Latin American countries with the highest concentrations of wealth are Mexico and Peru, where billionaires account for about 13 percent of Chile's GDP. Chile is the country in which the share of billionaires in GDP is the highest in the world, and the wealth of Chilean billionaires even exceeds that of Russians compared to the country's GDP. This extraordinary inequality of wealth and income, combined with the complete privatization of social services (water, electricity, etc.) and pensions, which depend on the fluctuations of the stock market, has rarely been made visible, as Chile has managed to increase its GDP per capita. But recent protests show that making social inequality visible is far from enough.
The uprising in Ecuador was an important element for the Chilean movement. As part of an austerity agreement with the IMF, Ecuador's President Lenín Moreno had planned to abolish petrol subsidies. He stubbornly refused to change the austerity program with which he wanted to save $1.4 billion a year. For the IMF's 4.2 billion US dollars in aid payments, the government must further cut government spending. The gallon of gasoline rose overnight from $1.85 to $2.30 as a result of the subsidy cut, while the price of diesel exploded from $1.08 to $2.27. The price of gasoline was cut from $1.85 to $2.30. The price of gasoline was also cut from $1.08 to $2.27. As a result, the cost of local and long-distance transport and, above all, the transport of goods naturally increased, with food prices also rising. The indigenous CONAIE called for the restoration of gasoline subsidies, but this was described as non-negotiable, leading to direct mass actions on the streets - government institutions, oil wells, highways were captured, demonstrations and the so-called "cacerolazos" were organized, pickets and barricades were set up, shops were plundered, tanks were torched, police and military were captured and detained while the president was forced to flee to Guayaquil. Thus ended a historical cycle of repressive neoliberalism characterized by austerity measures, and at the same time spread a new cycle of class struggle and intensified in the midst of the current structure of globalization and imperialism. In just one week, the indigenous sections of the population in particular abolished an increase in the price of petrol demanded by the IMF. This Ecuadorian victory diffused into the movement of Chilean youth, although the technical and political class composition of the proletariat, the standard of living, the political and economic system of Ecuador are very different from those of Chile.
The revolts are not triggered - according to the trend - around the omnipresent questions of climate change, but are circulation battles that initially affect the price, distribution and consumption of goods. Circulation describes a series of interrelated phenomena, namely what is commonly called the market, the capital cycle, the realization of previously produced goods on the market, and the various forms of labor involved in the circulation of goods. When it comes to the subjects of the struggles, those who are in the circulation struggle are, on the one hand, those who have been pushed out of the sphere of production and, on the other hand, those who cannot secure their own reproduction with their wages. This happens precisely when massive deindustrialization processes take place, i.e. when production decreases and capital flees to the service sphere or to financial institutions which, according to Marx, are located in the "noisy sphere of circulation".
Among the insurgents are young people, the unemployed, carers, the self-employed, drivers, other precarious workers and those who are completely out of the normal production cycles. In addition, the struggles are joined on the one hand by parts of the progressive middle class, and on the other by parts of the surplus population and the lumpen proletariat. A traditional labor struggle that could bring these different groups together across regional and national borders seems impossible, but what directly links classes and strata is the rising cost of the goods one relies on for reproduction and the street response with the methods of insurrection. So the uprisings are interclassist. The revolt began in Chile with precarious youth, students and high school students, with these groups quickly gaining support from sections of the left middle class and the more traditional groups of the labor movement. Let us recall Clover's distinction between riot and strike: the uprising is historically and logically related to the strike: The strike is a collective action that revolves around a) the level of the price of labour and better working conditions, b) in which the workers are purely in the position of the worker (not in the position of a proletarian overcoming the system), and that c) takes place in the context of capitalist production, while the uprising a) includes the struggle for price fixing on the markets (circulation), b) does not initially unite its participants, except that they are economically mostly completely dispossessed, and c) takes place in the context of circulation.
One of the peculiarities of states like Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Ecuador etc. is the existence and numerical importance of a subproletariat, an even poorer social class than the workers, because it is not integrated into a fixed wage system. The attempt of the rulers and the right to criminalize the uprising consists in driving a wedge between the honest, hard-working citizens on the one hand (including the peaceful demonstrators) and the precarious youths, students, high school students and ragged criminals on the other, in order to take away the dynamics of the antagonism between the rulers and the governed. This kind of criminalization of the movement is an important means of pacification, and one also takes up the subjectivities of class politics, which then seem to take on contours when, for example, a proletarian sees himself far removed from a subproletarian in his social consciousness. However, the workers in these semi-developed countries have no social guarantees, so that the line between proletarian and subproletarian is often blurred. You can be a proletarian and quickly downgraded to subproletarian after dismissal, or you can be a born subproletarian and become a proletarian if you get a permanent job in a company.
The battles are often triggered by the price increase of a product, which in part then refers directly to the climate problem: Gasoline. Think of the nationwide riots in Haiti triggered by the abolition of gasoline subsidies, the repeated Gasolinazo protests in Mexico, or the insrectionist struggle triggered by the increase in bus fares in Brazil. Whenever access to transport becomes indispensable for reproduction due to a lack of public infrastructure, fares become part of the value of the commodity labour or, for the precarious, even part of subsistence and thus the scene of massive confrontation. In 2018, the Gilet Jaunes movement was born in France, immediately conquering the weapons of the Riots: fires, blockades and barricades were a response to Macron's attempt to raise fuel prices in order to allegedly curb climate change, carried out on the backs of rural proletarians who need petrol to get to work because of a lack of public transport in rural areas and the backgrounds of cities.
In Haiti, gas shortages and price rises have led to an open revolt, attacking a US-friendly government. And only recently, Ecuador has been hit by an insurrectional wave in which the indigenous population in particular has responded to an increase in gasoline prices. One of the novelties in the Gilets Jaunes movement is that the state is using climate change as an excuse to cut the social costs of reproducing the population. It is easy to imagine how climate change will be used in developed countries in the future as a government tactic to enforce austerity measures. In this context, the struggles against the increase in gasoline prices are by no means to be seen as climate hostile, because ironically they go hand in hand with the flaring of cars, truly a climate-friendly action of the insurgents.
Even with the looting, the real neediness is not only free access to goods, but on the horizon a world where life is no longer dependent on goods production and capital. In Chile, it has again been shown that the uprising, insofar as it does not remain reduced to the company level of strikes, is directly political, because it is not only about the withdrawal of fares, but about an attack on the state and its repressive structures, on the Cunterinsurgency and the police. Statues and monuments are constantly being dragged down, which shows that this is not only about social reforms and Piñera's resignation, but also about an ice-cold reckoning with the oligarchy, which has once again ruled the country since the fall of the Salvador Allende government and is brutally defending its power. Students and pupils organised large meetings in Chile, which were quickly joined by other sections of the population, and it was only a matter of time before the whole country came to a standstill. Here, too, the struggle was triggered by increases in fares, but it was quickly not just about the increase and the scandal that transport had a price at all, but about resistance to the capitalization of life. In the fights the insurgents quickly realize that the main problem is not the price of transport or energy, but the fact that fossil fuels are a commodity. All the cars on the road transport the proletarians to a job they hate. And fossil fuels are consumed to provide electricity for the networks of capital. The spontaneity of the movement and its practical and radical critique of the totality of capitalist-neoliberal living conditions must be emphasized: Proletarian shopping in supermarkets, shopping malls, pharmacies, banks, etc., the destruction of state infrastructures, the rejection of repressive structures (police, criminal police and military), and an intuitive and fragmentary critique of the totality of capitalized life that one wants to completely change.
The insurgents are able to attack the police management rigorously, at least for a short period, although they are confronted with a massive brutalization and militarization of the police, which now shows on a global level that their essence is violence. Nevertheless, there are unexpectedly sharp riots, as in Hong Kong, for example. In Santiago, ENEL's [a Chilean electricity company] company building burned down and several subway stations were set on fire. The highly militarised states usually govern with the declaration of a state of emergency and, as a result, have the military patrol the streets. Nevertheless, there are undreamt-of effects and energies in the riots, and nothing seems the same as before. Despite the strong military presence on the streets, barricades, attacks on state institutions and the sabotage of strategic infrastructures for the movement of capital (toll stations on motorways, subway stations partially destroyed, dozens of flared buses and cars, etc.) continue. There are attacks on bank branches, numerous destroyed ATMs, the siege of police stations and the looting of supermarkets and large shopping centres. While the insurgents' demands, as in Hong Kong, may not yet be anti-capitalist, the struggles have attacked the power of the capitalist class, which governs Hong Kong and can de facto call its own, and that of the Chinese Communist Party. The actions against the police show that many in the movement have gradually lost confidence in state institutions. Strikes and other mobilizations in enterprises (hospitals, the airport, schools and universities, the public sector, etc.) have challenged the legitimacy of capitalist relations.
The search for the true subject of an uprising always ignores the diversity of the masses. In France, for example, from the outset, not only the rural population but also urban populations and inhabitants of the banlieues were part of the yellow vests. And in general, those parts of the surplus population that are denied access to wages are linked to those workers whose wages are no longer sufficient to buy what is necessary for reproduction. And it is once again the young people who lead the actions, the pupils who are locked up in desolate grammar schools, who look like prisons, and who remain subject to savings actions. The tremendous dynamism of the students' movement is being expanded by a proletarian youth who are showing their subversive willingness to fight day after day on the streets.
Even if the police management of the situation in the riots is interrupted for phases, at the same time the actions of the police become more brutal, or the penal system intensifies as in Chile. The insurgents often have to deal with an open state terrorism that is concealed by the capitalist media worldwide, but which is today captured by thousands of cameras and uploaded to the pages of the social media and the counter-information platforms. At the same time, the insurgents have realized that the essential function of the press in their own country is to distort or conceal the facts and create an ideological narrative that serves the interests of capital and the state. The repertoire of brutal attacks by the police is rich, ranging from arrests, notorious beatings, tear gas shot directly at the body, to the use of illegal prisons and murders. At the same time, the rulers deplore the considerable damage caused by the uprising, which, however germinal, is an attack on the private property of capital. In the productive chaos on the streets, a new kind of political class composition and social communication develops that challenges the normality of everyday life to date. Curfews are not respected and hatred of the police is on the rise. In the wild revolts, self-organization and meetings in the various districts are also taking place. It makes sense to bring the question of councils into play in the future, i.e. an institutionalizing anti-capitalist perspective from below, in order to counter the precarious and at the same time gloomy everyday life with an alternative, however sporadic. At the same time, proposals for reforms with which the government tries to take the dynamics out of the uprisings are categorically rejected. At the same time, there is no political force able to establish itself as the leader of the protests and engage in dialogue with the government. This creates confusion among those in power who do not know how to slow down the uprisings in their own way so that the old institutions and narratives can take hold again.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
In a recent interview with Chapo Trap House, Slavoj Zizek was asked about the new 'Joker' movie. Drawing from works of critical theory such as Jim Carrey's 'The Mask', Zizek offered a unique perspective on the genesis of madness in 'Joker' in contrast with that portrayed in Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight'.
by Sebastian Lotzer
Chile has experienced an unprecedented uprising in recent days. Starting with the increase in ticket prices for the metro, the uprising spread rapidly and targeted the entire system in a country that has been a laboratory for the toughest neoliberalism since the Pinochet coup in 1973 and where inequalities are among the most massive in the world. While the right-wing government declared a state of emergency and introduced a curfew, while the military patrolled the streets for the first time since the end of the dictatorship in 1990, we held a meeting with one of our companions in Chile to discuss the situation. He explains the challenges of the current social explosion, its composition, its fighting methods and its response to the parallel uprisings in South America.
Chile is experiencing popular uprisings of an intensity that has not existed for decades. What triggered the uprising?
The trigger for the uprising was the fight against the price increase of the Metro in Santiago. A journalist from Agence France Presse, who is still a good researcher, has just discovered that the Santiago de Chile subway is the most extensive in Latin America and that the capital is completely overloaded by traffic jams. It would be more appropriate to say that this movement, initiated by precarious students and high school students, is typical of a situation analyzed by the Italian Autonomia Operaria through the concept of militant investigation. At a time when the entire city has become a factory, and thus the entire urban social space is involved in value creation, it is only logical that the metro price should become a radical theme in the struggles. If we think of the movements in South America in recent years, we can make a comparison with the struggles in São Paulo in 2013 and claim that there are hardly any public buses in this city. Similar to Brazil, the movement began with a militant group that was independent of workers' parties and trade unions and spread from the capital to other major cities throughout the country. The most surprising thing is the speed of the expansion of movement in the Chilean case. On Friday it began in Santiago. On Saturday it was implemented in all the major cities of the country, from north to south.
How did the fight against rising fares become a widespread uprising?
These forms of contemporary struggles, in which the metropolis itself becomes a political object, have become increasingly present in Chile in recent years. This is certainly not the first attempt to politicize the "right to the city" in Chile, be it in Santiago or elsewhere. Other previous struggles have already taken place, with similar results. Likewise, insurgency practices are not new here. And we must remember the courage of feminist activists in the face of police repression, be it during the feminist movement in 2018 or during the 8 March of this year. If there is a social explosion of such magnitude this time, one of the reasons, in my opinion, is the new, much more offensive forms of struggle that have been developed in Santiago since day one.
"They stole so much from us that they even stole our fear" - popular uprising in Chile.
What forms of struggle are practised?
The movement began with the idea of a "massive fraud" ("evasión masiva") at several metro stations in Santiago to criticize this price increase. The idea is simple and of course reminds us of the self-reduction practices of the Italian Settanta: if the subway becomes too expensive, we won't pay for it anymore, and we will invade with several hundred people so that no security guard can prevent us from entering. But in the face of oppression, self-reduction quickly turned into sabotage and rupture. Showcases, distributors and broken displays, information screens were thrown on the rails, then fires were set in subway stations and in several buses.
We see the continuity between self-reduction and sabotage: if we exclude the most precarious from using the subway, and if the subway is not for everyone, it is not for anyone and must be destroyed. The rejection of the restriction of one's own options for action leads directly to sabotage. From that moment on, everything went on. The police actions used against the action in the subway led to unrest. The riots led to attacks and looting of supermarkets. The next day's demonstrations in the various cities of the country also triggered unrest and looting, to which the state responded by imposing a state of emergency in all these cities and the subsequent military curfew.
What kind of repressive reaction has the state carried out?
This is perhaps one of the most surprising things about this event in terms of the speed of its expansion. With the declaration of a state of emergency and then a military curfew, right-wing President Piñera delegates the restoration of (civil) order directly to the army and not just to the police. In a country like Chile, which is forever marked by 15 years of General Pinochet's dictatorship, this has a very special meaning. It seems to me that this is a dangerous option because the rights in Chile, as in other post-dictatorial countries (e.g. Spain), are the direct child of the former dictatorship. Just as the politicians of the People's Party in Spain are former Frankists who, at the time of the fall of the regime, suddenly found out that they were now conservative democrats, so the Chilean right-wing party is essentially made up of ex-pinochists. Some of Piñera's ministers were, among others, the main leaders for the "yes" in the 1988 referendum, i.e. politicians who fought against Pinochet's dismissal and against his return to a parliamentary democratic regime.
Consequently, the deployment of the army in this situation naturally means threatening the population with the same methods as in the 1973 Pinochet coup and making it clear that it was itself part of the coup. This can be dangerous for the right, because, as in Spain, there has been some form of agreement between the ex-Pinochists and the left.
The right stopped being fascist and sharing power with the left in the late 1980s, and the left stopped being revolutionary and abandoned all plans to prosecute the crimes of the dictatorship. It also accepted the 1980 Pinochet Constitution, which is still in force.
Using the army today means breaking this consensus and thwarting the hypocritical attitudes that have led to the belief in the sincere democratic transformation of the Chilean right. In order to win with this strategy, the ruling right is trying to present itself as being between the rioters and looters on the one hand and the honest citizens on the other, in other words to criminalise this uprising. We are not willing to see how the permanent injustice towards a large part of the population is expressed in the riots, and we make it a simple question of crime. This reminds us of the attitude of Sarkozism at the time of the uprising of the French suburbs in 2005. I think it is a risky decision for the government in such an unequal country, but with media propaganda it can work for a while.
Which social segments are most mobilized?
Answering this question helps to understand the repressive strategy of the state. Like many contemporary uprisings, the movement is interclassist. For the time being, it ranges from the progressive middle class to workers and precarious workers, students and high school students to the lumpen proletariat. And it is this reality, typical of many Latin American countries, that determines this movement, both in its sudden spread and in military oppression. The revolt began with precarious youth, students and high school students. A left middle class supports them as well as the more traditional militants of the workers movement. In my opinion, the presence or absence of the possibility of action by organized workers will be crucial to counteract the attempt by the right to criminalize and depoliticize the revolt. The victory of this already historical movement probably depends in part on it. The existence or absence of other fighting networks in this situation will also be decisive, I am thinking in particular of feminist groups and Mapuche fighters or Mapuche supporters (the Mapuche are the main indigenous community that has always fought with the Chilean state for the recognition of their rights and against the expropriation of their land). Knowing that the same people often exist in workers' or precarious organizations, in feminist struggle and in support of the Mapuche, since one can be a feminist worker in solidarity with the Mapuche, for example.
One of the South American particularities is the existence and numerical importance of a "lumpenproletariat", as Marx said, or a "subproletariat", as Pasolini said, i.e. an even poorer social class than the workers, because it is not so much integrated into a fixed wage system. The term "rags" is often used in Chile to describe them, and is not an expression of Marxists alone. It is, of course, derogatory. The right's attempt to criminalize is to create a contradiction between honest, hard-working citizens on the one hand, and sabotage by precarious youth, students, high school students, and the looting of businesses by "ragged" journeymen on the other. I believe that it is this contradiction on which the strategy of the right is based with the criminalization of the movement, and the intensification of this internal contradiction of the working class is the only way in which it can get rid of the conflict The importance of this subject and its complexity should not be underestimated.
From the point of view of social consciousness, there are just as great differences between the proletariat and the subproletariat as there are between workers and managers in Europe. A proletarian feels in his social consciousness of himself as far removed from a subproletarian as an engineer would from a manager. There is the same misunderstanding between them, and often the same class racism. With the exception, and this makes analysis more difficult, of course, that in a neoliberal country where work has no real social protection, the border between the two is often blurred. You can have been a proletarian and become a subproletarian after dismissal, or be a born subproletarian and become a proletarian if you take a permanent job in a factory.
As a result, in the working classes often one is the "subproletarian" of the other. Some working-class neighborhoods fear being plundered by subproletarians in the neighborhood, while the neighborhood considers the others as proletarians and is therefore afraid of them. What is certain is that the practice of looting is a common practice of subproletarians in South America, as well as in the United States. And when you know that reselling stolen household appliances earns much more than the average Chilean salary, you can quickly guess the reason for this practice. In itself, it is not specific to social unrest. It is found every time there is a massive blackout in Chile during a major earthquake. In this situation of natural disaster, the state generally declares a state of emergency to prevent these thefts, as it does today. That is the right-wing strategy: To make people believe that this popular and spontaneous uprising is ultimately nothing more than a natural, common disaster in a country that stretches along a seismic fault line. And so the solution to this disaster is to punish plasma TV thieves and supermarket arsonists. Just that this week's earthquake is social. The tectonic plates that collide are the antagonistic class relationship.
And until today there is no military curfew for political reasons, at least since the attempt to liquidate Pinochet by the revolutionaries of the FPMR (Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, an illegal armed group of the Chilean Communist Party) in the 1980s.
What are the slogans, the messages that bring people together?
The slogans about the price increases for the subway were very quickly replaced by a general criticism of neoliberalism long before the government withdrew this increase to reassure the population. This allows us to understand the national dimension of this movement, because there is only a metro in Santiago and Valparaiso, and not in the other cities of the country. The simple fact that this fight spread to all the major cities in 24 hours shows that the people immediately recognised themselves in this particular case of the metro price. It immediately understood that this was just another phenomenon of the exploitation of neoliberal capitalism, which has dominated everything in this country since the fall of Allende and the Popular Front. This is important because it suggests a common awareness of the exploitation of all the cities of this vast country, where geographical lifestyles are so different, from the northern desert to the Arctic, and even if the regions have quite strong cultural differences. Moreover, Chile, like France, is a highly centralized country, and yet the difference between the capital and the provinces is not too great. On the contrary, the provincials immediately reproduced the movement in their cities and at their own level. So there is a common class consciousness of the exploited in their social diversity and contradictions that runs throughout the country. The uprising was certainly strong in all the big cities: Valparaiso, Concepción, Valdivia, etc., but especially in the northern cities like Iquique and Antofagasta, which belong to the poorest regions of the country.
The common slogans after the actions on the subway of Santiago express the general criticism of Chilean neoliberalism, the daily rejection by him, the denial of human dignity in view of the corruption of the elites. So there are all kinds of reasons for criticising this neoliberal system, and there are many: Social injustice, corruption, nepotism, widespread insecurity of work, economic exploitation, radical inequality in access to health, education, extractivist economy that destroys nature and leaves only ruins, etc.
The entire neoliberal Chilean system as a whole and the political system created with the return of democracy are rejected. One of the most explicit slogans is: "No es por 30 pesos, es por 30 años" - "It's not about 30 pesos (the price increase of the subway), but about 30 years". "30 years" is the time since 1989, the time of the return to democracy and the consensus between the ex-pinochists and the left that I have already mentioned. This is indeed a political-economic system that is being criticized here. Another of the particularly fine slogans that we hear in the streets is the same: "nos quitaron tanto que nos quitaron hasta el miedo" - "They stole so much from us that they even stole our fear".
Some older people make it clear: they thank young people for their revolt and for the lack of fear they feel in the face of a post-dictatorial system that has paralyzed the previous generation. This fear, which young people have lost, is now being used to mobilize the armed forces. Since the military dictatorship is a kind of psychological mass trauma, the use of the army against the demonstrators is an attempt to awaken the trauma, to revive fear and censorship. Today, the balconies have reacted to these fears in the same way as they did during the dictatorship of the 1980s: with the "cacerolazo", the concert of pots and pans, real percussions that react from one building to the next to make the military understand that if you are not allowed to leave the house during the curfew, you still show your opposition and support for the demonstrators on the street.
What are the possible organized forces within the insurgency? How are left parties, trade unions and revolutionary groups positioned?
Apart from the students and precarious fighters who are at the origin of this movement, all the factions associated with the workers movement seem to live only in theoretical worlds and could not imagine such an event. It is very likely that the organizers of the first actions against the price of the subway will also be overwhelmed by the events today. Even those who wanted such a movement could not imagine such important consequences. However, there is one important point, and that follows from the previous point, the social democratic left, which co-created and co-administered post-dictatorial Chile, has been ignored as much as the right. Even left-wing voters say it: it was the mediocrity of Bachelet's reforms that led to Piñera's victory. The Social Democrats are jointly responsible for the current social catastrophe.
How does the Chilean uprising resonate with the mass struggles in the rest of Latin America? Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil...
This point is very important and gives us an idea of the dynamics of struggles in a globalized capitalism. It has been known for some years that riots do not develop according to a diffusionist model: they do not spread like a liquid over a neutral space, but swing from one country to another, like harmonies in music. We are not in Marin Karmitz' Coup pour coup , but in Gérard Griseys Partials.
It is certain that the uprising in Ecuador is a crucial element of the Chilean movement. In just one week, the mobilized Ecuadorians abolished an increase in the price of gasoline demanded by the IMF. Given the extent to which the IMF has dominated Latin America and Chile in particular, this Ecuadorian victory surprised many people on the continent and probably gave young Chileans a lot of courage, both consciously and unconsciously. The class composition, the standard of living, the political and economic system of Ecuador are very different from those of Chile, the importance of indigenous communities, which make up 35% of the population and are very socially organized, is not comparable to the situation of the Mapuche, for example.
But Ecuador has shown how an offensive struggle can be victorious, outside the party organizations of the left and even against them. Also in Ecuador, an alliance between different social groups was victorious, rural indigenous communities, students, the organized working class, etc., and the social groups of the people of Ecuador were also victorious. And I believe that this logic of the union of different social groups, beyond the internal contradictions of the working class, is present in the minds of the Chilean militants. It is precisely this class alliance that wants to break the right with its criminalization and its attempt to divide itself between proletarians, sub-proletarians, precarious students - high school students, and so on. As a result, the current Chilean challenge is enormous. A short- or long-term victory or defeat of the rebels would have a direct impact on the entire continent. To a certain extent, the renunciation of the Metro price law is already a limited but real victory. Social defeats are so widespread in Latin America (and elsewhere) that no victory is too much. It remains to be seen whether a tactical victory will lead to a strategic victory.
The Chilean bourgeoisie is aware of all this. They have certainly had no difficulties in obtaining their own power and ever better conditions for exercising it, but they know that the chance of Ecuadorian resonance has made Chile the current and temporary front of social struggles. It fights not only for itself, but also for all the bourgeoisies of the continent that are its allies. Imagine such a movement tomorrow in Argentina or Brazil against Bolsonaro. The Chilean bourgeoisie must avoid this, and Piñera made it very clear today in his anti-delinquency propaganda: "We are at war with a powerful enemy (...) and in this struggle we must not lose him".
The difference is that the "enemy" he names is not the exploited and plundered working classes, but an imaginary "criminal organization" that can only be justified by state action. The more we have invented a suitable and legendary enemy, the more we convince ourselves of the necessity of war. Where powerful criminal organizations really dominate a country and not just steal household appliances, as in Mexico, the state seems much more timid.
What do you think are the possible consequences of mobilization?
The fight goes on, it's very difficult to predict the outcome. This depends on factors that have not yet been determined. What is certain is that oppression is enormous and aimed at intimidation. While hypocritical journalists say they condemn mass violence to pretend to support the legitimacy of peaceful action, none of them have shown or reported how peaceful demonstrations and other sit-ins on Sunday afternoons were suppressed by police violence before curfew. Fortunately, this information circulates on social networks, but it is not certain whether it is sufficient. For the next few days we can quote Breton: "We have the hope to contribute to the solution of an unresolved problem".
Note: This post was published on 21 October 2019 on "ACTA - Partisan*e*s dans la Metropole". The translation was done in a hurry and with a rather inadequate knowledge of the language, but it was a matter close to my heart, because there is no doubt that history is being written in Chile and this text should contribute a lot to a deeper understanding of the social revolt there.
Sebastian Lotzer, 26.10.2019
by Cli Ché
The following text is the translation of a leaflet published on the homepage of Proletarios revolucionarios. Proletarios revolucionarios was a communist group from Quito that disbanded in 2016. Due to a lack of Spanish, the text has been translated from English. More information on the context of the protests can be found in this article,
The recent economic measures of the Ecuadorian government are austerity measures used in times of capitalist crises and have been used by right-wing, "neo-liberal", left and "21st-century" socialist governments around the world, because they are all of It depends on the same logic of capitalist production, which lives on the exploitation of the working class. In times of crisis, capital applies the same economic policy to our class everywhere: time to tighten our belts, or it will lead to greater impoverishment or intensification of exploitation.
In the case of the recent paquetazo [ 1] of [Ecuadorian President Lenin] Moreno, first, there is an increase in the cost of living due to rising fuel prices (because here in Ecuador, we know that "if fuel prices rise, everyone else will rise"); and secondly, all the labor law reforms imposed on us to encourage flexibility and precariousness (wage cuts, lower pensions, fewer vacations, flexible employment contracts, teleworking, etc.).
Nevertheless, neither the paquetazo nor the neo-liberal government or the IMF are the only problems. The fundamental problem is how capital directly and unruly attacks the working class during times of crisis and how we respond to it. Of course the fight is the right way. But we also need to analyze the struggle of our class self-critically and to design a strategy for it.
Thus, when the heat of the very concrete struggle of the proletariat breaks out of the democratic and bourgeois terrain, so does the terrain of the bourgeoisie and the state, as well as of the role play with the unions and the leftist parties, which only want to co-opt and fight the proletarian struggle they are capable of dealing with the ruling class over their ownTo negotiate specific and career goals: As soon as that happens, the strongest and most legitimate response of the working class to these austerity measures has always been and will be the direct, autonomous and antagonistic action to defend and enforce our essential concrete needs; or at least we have to fight so that the rich and powerful can not worsen our already terrible material conditions of existence.
To this end, the demands and protests of the working class will generalize and radicalize, to the point where neither the government nor the entire system can meet such "impossible" social demands; It could only fulfill the overthrow of capital and state, and we would then fight for a revolutionary eruption from the capitalist crisis. But there is much to be done both here and everywhere, especially in this country where the level of accumulated history of the class struggle, despite some exploitable episodes, has generally been deep and volatile.
For the time being, it is necessary and good to go out in protest with slogans like "Down with the paquetazo ", "Down with Moreno" and "Down with the IMF", "Forming Affinity in the Streets" and collectively, more or less organized, more or less autonomous, more or less militant, but it must go on (as was said at a general meeting tonight): "Down with the Government", "Down with the Entrepreneurs and the Bankers", " Que se vayan to dos, que no quede ni uno solo " [ 2], "Down with capital, down with the state, down with all governments and their lackeys".
The turn of the paquetazo and the downfall of Moreno (just like Bucaram, Mahuad and Gutierrez in recent years) would be real "victories" for a possible new "movement" of social protests in this country. But objectively, here and now, there is still a lack of necessary real conditions and social forces, such as the level of the class struggle, but something is going on. It may be that this government of businessmen and bankers comes through, but the proletarian class struggle in the streets will try to stop them, and it will not be in vain. The fight is the way and it is in the fight where we learn, especially during blows and defeats, so that we can use them in future battles in our favor.
The fact that there will be more social protests tomorrow in this country "sleeping" in the last decade is no small feat. On the contrary, driven by strong and exemplary protests in recent weeks in Bolívar and Carchi, tomorrow could start the October 2019 for Ecuador. The protest will grow and there may be some jumps. Some social organizations have already stated that the "National Strike" will start on October 3rd. And there have been some protests all over the country. Let's see what happens tomorrow, when it gets hot again on the streets ...
Yes, we have to go out and protest, but we have to be aware that this is only the beginning and that we must dare to go beyond that. We must finally realize that the rich and powerful will not pay for the crisis; that this is not just a national or "neoliberal" problem, but rather a global and capitalist one; that all this will never be definitively eliminated unless we eliminate capitalism, which will continue to attack and worsen our lives with more crises and austerity measures; that we are still a long way from a new cycle of international and local proletarian struggles, which will change the interrelationship between social forces and impose on the capitalist system a situation of revolutionary crisis; but at the same time it begins with the struggle to defend our needs against the exploitation of capital and its accumulation. Anything in terms of fighting, organization and consciousness, the coming protests will leave many lessons and working class fires in this "half of the world". It was time. Let's see what happens in the streets tomorrow. the coming protests will leave many lessons and working class fires in this "half of the world". It was time. Let's see what happens in the streets tomorrow. the coming protests will leave many lessons and working class fires in this "half of the world". It was time. Let's see what happens in the streets tomorrow.
A pissed off proletarian from the region of Ecuador
By Lundi Matin
The movement of yellow vests seems to confirm a break of the historical thread of class struggles.
If we stubbornly insist on sharing articles on the “gilets jaunes” of France, it is because they embody a number of characteristics that may mark out the future of possible anti-capitalist movements. The following reflection, published with lundimatin 172 (31/12/2018) points in that direction.
We publish here an analysis from Temps Critiques (27/12/2018) about the yellow vests movement and all that it puts into question regarding the historical categories of a certain left.
The movement of the yellow vests seems to confirm a break in the historical thread of class struggles. It had already been initiated world-wide by the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement and the movements of the Squares, all of which had been at the head of mobilizations of demands concerning liberties, equality, living conditions in general; employment more than working conditions. It is also for this reason that these movements were addressed much more to the State than to employers, insofar as the process of globalization/totalisation of capital leads States to manage the reproduction of social relations at the territorial level, while remaining dependent on the requirements of globalization.
In France, the resilience of the traditional workers’ movement still maintained the idea of the class struggle against capital. In the spring of 2016, the fight against the reform of the labor law and labour statutes continued along the path of “the working class above all”, without however obtaining tangible results. A few years earlier, the renewed mobilisation generated by the “movement of the squares” did not allow for an effective reaction or resistance, because it quickly privileged the formalism of the assemblies, to the detriment of the substance of struggle. This struggle seemed to have found a more promising blend within the Spanish movement, with the overflow of the squares towards neighborhood solidarities in connection with housing problems.
In all of these struggles, including in the case of the struggle against the labor law, the question of the general strike or the blocking of factory production was not raised, nor has it been posed by the yellow vests movement. In these conditions, to bring together the pursuit of roundabout occupations with calls for a workers’ strike is a fiction of “conflict convergence” or the outdated idea that blocking flows of goods would be secondary to blocking the production of the goods themselves.
A community of struggle that is no longer a community of labour.
The roundabout rebels certainly include many salaried employees (or similarly, employees who benefit from subsidized jobs or social assistance to return to work), but there are also other non-salaried occupants or former employees (including poor self-entrepreneurs and especially retirees who are far from all going off on low cost flights to exotic destinations). It is not from the working relationship that they intervene, but from their living conditions and their social non-existence. A struggle, of course, but a classless struggle rather than a class struggle. It is therefore useless to look for what would be its proletarian wing, to animate its expansion, something that it clearly does not wish to develop.
Moreover, if the yellow vests are scorned by the power in place, it is not because they are “proletarians” in the historical sense of the term (Macron does not openly scorn the professional workers raised in the rules of the the art of labour unionism and legal education), but rather because they are, for him, nothing (“people who are nothing”, he said), modern sub-proletarians, social cases, savages having forgotten all the rules of civility, people who can neither speak nor produce officials or leaders. “No teeth”, as François Holland said once. A contempt itself despicable as it is charged with inhumanity; a blind contempt since it casts an undifferentiated judgment on the movement, while even we, as we mingle with them, know that there are very many different people within the yellow vest collectives.
According to the testimonies of the collective life of the yellow vests in the “cabins” which have flourished on the roundabouts, we can affirm that it is first and foremost a community of struggle made of sharing, in difficult living conditions; a union of energies against globalist power (Macron, ministers, the elected, the corrupt, the great-tax evaders, the confiscators of the word of the people, etc.); collective aspirations to put an end to a bad life; all this with sometimes utopian accents, as sung by a yellow vest amateur musician “I do not want to live in a world where doves do not fly any more”. A lyricism and songs far removed from the eternal political couplets on “emancipation” that accompany the demonstrations of workers or leftists. It is this community of struggle that makes people take turns to prepare food on the spot or share the food that is brought in support. Solidarity is not an empty word.
What is the organisation?
If we agree that yellow vests have developed an autonomous movement, we will not go so far as to say that they self-organise themselves in the ideological sense of self-organisation, as conceived by historical councilists or libertarians. It is an immediate self-organisation that leads to nothing but his own immediate practice. It reaches its limits when it wants to move to the stage of a true organisation of the movement, if only in the decision-making to refuse or not the requests of official authorisation for demonstrations or to accept or not established routes, the election of spokespersons or delegates. There is a refusal of organisation and not self-organisation, and it corresponds not only to distrust of any political or trade union organisation, but also to the fact that the present conditions have exhausted all the known historical forms. Indeed, the yellow vests can not create “roundabout councils”, as there were formerly workers’ councils or soldiers’ councils. But that does not mean that they can not argue or act from these roundabouts. Simply, they are not places that can ensure the durability of political forms, as we have seen recently with their dismantling. Here again the movement innovates, because it at the same time blocks and moves. Nodes of blockades can indeed be moved and renewed in the same way that places and protest routes can be redefined at any time.
The risk the is that of a repetition of previous actions. However, this repetition is already made precarious 1) by the decreasing number of those present at the points of mobilization; 2) by the intervention of the gendarmes at the roundabouts and especially against the kinds of small ZADs which have more or less spontaneously formed there; 3) by the new apparatuses mobilised by the police during the Saturday demonstrations, which tend to transfer the real violence of the repression of State, which alienates a large part of public opinion, onto a violence intrinsic to the movement, given the fact of its refusal to comply with government calls to stop demonstrating. It is the movement that then becomes the troublemaker and all those who call for it are thus guilty of the same offense, by intention, a form of crime increasingly manufactured in the name of urgency or exception (for example, in relation to terrorist activity), but recyclable for the occasion.
From negation to institutionalisation?
Did we move to a second phase, more affirmative, that of the RIC [référendum d’initiative citoyenne/citizens’ initiative referendum: a demand to promote proposals of law originating with the citizenry, along the lines of what is found in Switzerland], while the first was more negative (Macron, resign!, We will not give up on anything, etc.)? Or can the movement continue by absorbing this new electoral proposal, something that seems to offer a way out for those who, among the yellow vests, see that Macron will not resign?
If the RIC destroys the immediate dynamics of the movement, it is because on its current basis, that of the roundabout occupations and demonstrations on Saturday, it does not carry a clear historical dynamic, especially as the practice of assemblies, as well as the idea of delegation, find little echo or create divisions within the movement. It is precisely because it is incapable of making its dynamics historical on an assembly basis, that it can take refuge in the RCI. A referendum is for some an example of direct democracy, but for us it is the risk of a beginning of the institutionalisation of the movement  – or worse the birth of a typical Five Star movement, as in Italy.
Our criticism of the RIC can not therefore be taken primarily on the basis of a perceived strategic error of the movement that would thereby be “co-opted”, as claimed by a leaflet published on the net. Indeed, this leaflet retains the traditional leftist discourse on “co-option”, but finally rests on positions of “disengagement” limited to an anti-macronism. It is tempting for some to appropriate them because they may seem uncompromising and have expressed the unity of the movement during the first weeks, but for those who, like us, think that capital is a social relationship, we can be satisfied with neither. Of course there are reasons to argue that the adoption of the RIC would ultimately only concern “societal issues”; questions that are at the source of all the media or populist manipulations, and which do not relate to the material and social conditions which are at the source of the revolt. Moreover, how could a referendum force employers to raise wages and owners to lower rents?
But then it will be retorted, “what do you propose? “. This is the same as what we were told in 68 and this time, in addition, without even the escape, for some, of responding by proposing exotic models (Cuba or China).
One can not neglect the fact that what makes the strength of the movement is also what makes it weak. To take just one example, the actual link between the yellow vests and trade unionists intervening on the roundabouts remains very formal, insofar as these trade unionists only intervene as individuals, as we do, but without establishing a mediation that makes possible and concrete the fact that more and more basic trade unionists are ready to enter the movement, but on another basis that is not the convergence of struggles (this is the point of view of the CGT), but with the feeling that it is the same struggle and that in addition it took forms that make it possible to “win”.
Yet it is a sentiment shared by many participants in the inter-professional union event of December 14th, who also participated in one or more Saturday demonstrations with yellow vests. Moreover, more and more cégétistes, even if globally they are a very small minority, put on yellow vests, while bearing signs and CGT stickers, or better, wear red and yellow vests. But subjective expectations are limited by objective conditions, because the union world is increasingly cut off from what we can no longer even call the world of work, so much have situations become particularized. A composite ensemble that, on the one hand, understands that “working more to earn more” is an illusion, but on the other, does not seem to oppose the tax exemption of overtime proposed by the government. However, the latter has recognised negative effects on the level of employment, which is a concern of the yellow vests. This contradiction may explain the fact that the movement does not seem to make any reference to the notion of guaranteed income, even though it has the consciousness and the experience that, often, working is no longer enough to live .
The movement expresses, by its diversity and heterogeneity, the multidimensional nature of inequalities and a very different “sense” of the statistical inequalities, taken one by one. This gap is also due to the fact that France is more efficient in redistributing income upstream (accessibility to university, health, minimum wage, quality of life in general), that seems “normal” , than downstream, where the direct progressive tax weighs little; the CSG is for all, along with the VAT and various other taxes which weigh particularly on the propensity of the poorest salaried employees to consume.
Towards a general of all roundabouts?
A consumption that the movement upsets during this holiday season by blocking the supply of large supermarkets at central platforms, such as that of Auchan near Nimes, or directly blocking the entrance of supermarkets. Some prophets of doom, always running ahead of triumphant capital, may have spread rumours about the yellow vests, that they are hurting the economy by blocking large supermarkets, thereby benefiting Amazon and other online sales services. However, this assertion is highly questionable since the first figures show a general decline in consumption in traditional shopping places and a slight increase, but normal, because expected on the basis of an average increase, of online sales. Yet it is not unthinkable to consider the idea that “the spirit of the time” (gassed) is not conducive to consumption and not just because it would be more difficult to supply. In the same vein, we saw statements such as, “Unplug the TV and put on your vest.” Many yellow vests indicate that they no longer leave their homes except for what is essential. The lack of social relations is palpable and the invisibility we are discussing here is not that of exclusion, but that of a general social invisibility due to the new geopolitics of space which also concerns the inhabitants of suburbs . This situation imposes itself on a much broader ensemble of people than that which is covered by the struggle between the two great classes, the bourgeois and the working class, nor is it reducible to a simplistic opposition between the rich and the poor defined quantitatively or monetarily.It is the classless struggle of a “multitude” understood in the sense that it is not that of the kind, exploited 99% against the 1% of malicious exploiters and profiteers, at a time when the hierarchies of social positions or at work are both multiplied and refined, and are produced and reproduced without too much qualms by individuals, at each level they occupy. A classless struggle in the sense of the absence of a historical subject.
The movement of yellow vests is often criticised because, unlike historical workers’ struggles, it would not present a project of emancipation. It is a fact, but we have already said elsewhere why these projects were carried, from 1788 and 1789 until the years 1967-1978, by precisely historical subjects (first the bourgeois class and then the proletariat). The defeat of this last revolutionary cycle ruined any project of emancipation, except that which capital itself realized as part of the completion of the process of individualization in a capitalised society. But at the roundabouts and other places of expression of the current movement, anyway, there is a tension towards the community, not an abstract tension towards the human community, but a tension at the same time concrete (it is at the level of affect) and general because the movement embraces and questions all social relations. It is no longer the “All together” of 1995 against a specific project, but a sort of inseparable overturning and questioning of the capitalist totality, from viewpoints or angles in themselves partial.
This partiality of the attacks is for the moment compensated by the totality of the “act against”, the one that is translated in the language of “We will not give anything up” of the yellow vests, which answers to the “you are nothing” of Power. This “We will not let go” implies determined collective actions that the excessive presence and aggressiveness of the police can make violent; a confrontation of forces that the power and the media call “extreme”, with all the interested orchestration they give them.
 – https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/economie-social/un-gilet-jaune-de-montbard-makes-a-carton-on-the-web-with-sa-new-chanson- 1545108297
 – On this point, cf. the blog of Temps critiques about the days of Eymoutiers): http://blog.tempscritiques.net/archives/2179
 – After Julien Coupat, it is now the figure of the yellow vest movement that is paying the price. We are witnessing a criminalisation of social movements with the proliferation of arrests, preventive custody and heavy prison sentences for the slightest trifle. So many anti-constitutional measures, because of their blatant disproportion with the incriminated acts which demonstrates not the strength of the state, but its weakness. A weakness made even more visible by the fact that, on the other side of the barricade, the police, in a half day strike, obtained a from 120 to 150 euros of monthly salary increase.
 – At the same time, we notice that for the first time, official requests for authorised protest routes have been filed with certain police prefectures, as was the case on 22 December 2018; the first noticeable retreat of the movement, with the concomitant creation of marshal services specific to the yellow vests.
 – Available here http://www.19h17.info/2018/12/12/non-a-la-ricuperation/
 – While the CGT signed with six other trade union centrals the condemnation of the methods of struggle of the yellow vests.
 – And paradoxically, it is Macron who makes the ghost resurface, with the increase of a tax on work activity, which thereby loses its original character, which was to push back to work people satisfied with the social minimum. But this is something else that is the recognition that wages no longer pay work “correctly” and that the complement must be drawn from public money. The “work more to earn more” exhausted its effects, even if the tax exemption of overtime seeks to give it a breath of life … at the expense of unemployment figures!
 – See the investigation by Th. Piketty and the Laboratory on Global Inequalities.
 – Indeed, if the “problems” of the suburbs are highlighted by sensationalism on the side of the media or political interest by the parties, the daily life of the majority of its inhabitants, all associative or cultural actions that take place, are rendered invisible.h
Out Now @ Bandcamp :: Obsolete Capitalism and Adi Newton / @ The Anti Group :: Chaos Variation III :: 12-inch ultra-limited edition vinyl with 16-page color book, assembled by hand, and printed on felt-paper Twill marked in 50 copies :: 25 copies in Italian and 25 copies in English language :: Editions Rizosfera / NUKFM :: Cat. NURKFM004 :: December 2018 :: Graphics and layout Gabriele Fantuzzi :: Realization of typography Simone Forte / Fortress SL :: Obsolete Capitalism Hyper X and DJ Rocca / Luca Roccatagliati:. Translations eng> ita Claudio Kulesko :: Editing Letizia Rustichelli and Paolo Davoli :: PHASE 2 of the collaboration between Adi Newton and Obsolete Capitalism has begun. Stay tuned, further developments will be announced shortly ...
While I’ve mainly been consumed by start-of-term stuff, I have been following up on a few leads in relation to the Foucault work. One of these was a piece by Georges Bataille on Nietzsche, first published in his short-lived journal Acéphale. The British Library has copies of two original issues of Acéphale – both double issues, though still very short. Pdfs of the whole short run are available at Monoskop.
Bataille is a fascinating and disturbing figure, and I’ve just started reading Michel Surya’s biography of him. While looking in the BL catalogue, I found the Encyclopædia Acephalica, published by Atlas Press, which wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but provides a lot of other material by and related to Bataille. It had a useful bibliography which has suggested a few more things to look at. But what it revealed to me was that Acéphale wasn’t just the name of the journal, but also a secret society founded by Bataille. I’m not sure how far down this particular rabbit-hole I will go, but I found that there was a recent publication in English of a host of material related to this society.
It’s entitled The Sacred Conspiracy: The Internal Papers of the Secret Society of Acephale (Atlas Press, 2018). Here’s the publisher’s description:
This book recounts what must be one of the most unusual intellectual journeys of modern times, in which Georges Bataille — still best known outside of France as a highly wrought pornographer (The Story of the Eye etc.) — have spent the early Thirties in far-left groups opposing the rise of Fascism, abandoned that approach in order to transfer the struggle on to “the mythological plane”.
In 1937, he founded two groups in order to explore the combinations of power and the “sacred” at work in society (Bataille associated the sacred with expenditure, eroticism and death). The first group, the College of Sociology, gave lectures that were intended to reveal the hidden undercurrents within a society on the verge of catastrophe. Bataille and Roger Caillois produced some of their finest texts for these sessions, in which many of the most celebrated intellectuals of the period participated. The second group was Acéphale, a genuine secret society whose emblem was a headless figure that in part represented the death of God. This “ferocious” anti-religion enacted torch-lit rituals in a forest at night beneath an oak tree that has been struck by lightening. Until the discovery a few years ago of the group’s internal papers (which include theoretical texts, meditations, minutes of meetings, rules and prohibitions and even a membership list), almost nothing was known of its activities. Here is the story of what must be among the strangest associations in political, literary or occult history.
This book is the first to collect a representative selection of the writings of Bataille, and of those close to him, in the years leading up to the war. They judged that the time was right to confront the most intractable problems of the human condition head-on: how to live an integrated existence in a universe that was ruthless, absurd and indifferent? And how to oppose repressive and unequal social structures given the obvious impotence of the democracies and the political left when faced with far-right ideology? Such themes have a renewed resonance today.
The texts published here comprise lectures given to the College of Sociology by Bataille, Caillois and Michel Leiris, essays from the Acéphale journal and a large cache of the internal papers from the secret society. A desparate narrative unfolds, and Bataille risked all in this wholely unreasonable quest. With a few fellow travellers, he underook what he later described as a “journey out of this world”.
It looks compendious (480 pp.), richly-illustrated and affordable at £25, especially for such a big book. A quick check of Worldcat suggests no UK libraries have a copy, so it’s now on order.
Aside from Foucault reading the journal (there are notes on it in Paris), another link is that in the 1960s Foucault was part of a tribute issue of Critique to Bataille – a journal Bataille founded. This is the well-known ‘Preface to Transgression’ piece. But Foucault also wrote the brief preface to the first volume of Bataille’s Oeuvres complètes, published in 1970, which I don’t think has ever been translated. Foucault was clearly involved in some way with the planning of the Oeuvres complètes, since he used multiple copies of pages of a draft plan as scrap paper – they are found in multiple boxes of his papers in Paris. If I continue my work on Foucault for a book on the 1960s I’ll need to dig into this further, but for now I’m interested in finding out more about Bataille’s early work, especially around Nietzsche. And finally on that, I was surprised to realise that there was a new translation of his book On Nietzsche, which appeared in 2015 with SUNY Press, translated by Stuart Kendell. I only knew the earlier version, translated by Bruce Boone with Athlone/Continuum/Bloomsbury, which I bought and read probably 20 years ago.
In recent years, techno-scientific progress has started to utterly transform our world – changing it almost beyond recognition. In this extraordinary new book, renowned philosopher Slavoj Žižek turns to look at the brave new world of Big Tech, revealing how, with each new wave of innovation, we find ourselves moving closer and closer to a bizarrely literal realisation of Marx’s prediction that ‘all that is solid melts into air.’ With the automation of work, the virtualisation of money, the dissipation of class communities and the rise of immaterial, intellectual labour, the global capitalist edifice is beginning to crumble, more quickly than ever before-and it is now on the verge of vanishing entirely.
But what will come next? Against a backdrop of constant socio-technological upheaval, how could any kind of authentic change take place? In such a context, Žižek argues, there can be no great social triumph – because lasting revolution has already come into the scene, like a thief in broad daylight, stealing into sight right before our very eyes. What we must do now is wake up and see it.
Burt Reynolds’ Unfinished Business: Actor Was Fielding Offers, Preparing For ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Role
In just a couple of weeks, Burt Reynolds was slated to go in front of the camera of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Reynolds, who died unexpectedly of a suspected heart attack, was to play rancher George Spahn in the movie, set in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969 before the Manson Family murders were committed.
Reynolds, who was cast back in May and visited the Leonardo DiCaprio- and Brad Pitt-starring film’s table read in June, had received a straight offer from Tarantino, who had seen Reynolds in the 2018 release The Last Movie Star.
That feature, in which Reynolds played an ageing movie star, created a host of new opportunities for the 1970s movie icon. (You can read The Last Movie Star writer-director Adam Rifkin’s remembrance of his friend and childhood hero Reynolds here.)
OBSOLETE CAPITALISM :: CONTROL, MODULATION AND ALGEBRA OF EVIL IN BURROUGHS AND DELEUZE :: RIZOSFERA :: THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE :: SF016 :: SEPTEMBER 2018
by Obsolete Capitalism
According to Deleuze’s Pourparler the concept of “Control” can be ascribed to William Burroughs. Since the seventies, it is possible to trace a deep intellectual and political convergence between Deleuze and Bur- roughs. This has happened across three levels of analysis: control society, revolutionary communities and schizo-culture. This essay attempts an analysis of the relationship between these two giants of twentieth century counterculture by borrowing their ‘control’ perspective. With the critical figure of Foucault on the background, the crucial political and philosophical passage from “discipline” to “control” appears in all its monstrosity. The struggle against Control, according to Deleuze and Burroughs, must be perpetrated through the invention of literary and philosophical “war machines” which try to hide from established knowledge and dominant powers by gathering in communities made of unassimilable singularities. Burroughs’ untraceable and diagrammatic critique seems ever more precious as it is completely strange to the conformism of contemporary critical thought.
Charles Bukowski Explains How to Beat Depression: Spend 3-4 Days in Bed and You’ll Get the Juices Flowing Again
I felt like sleeping for five years but they wouldn’t let me
—Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye
I don’t know about you, but the grind gets me down. Day in, day out, the same routine, never a break but the odd vacation. And you know what they say about vacations; when you get back, you need another one. Used to be days were more regular, in the zenith of the unions. You put in your time and you get some back, enough at least for a good night’s sleep. No more. The machine never sleeps, and neither can we. If you have the good fortune to live in the U.S., you and I can call ourselves blessed inhabitants of the most overworked nation in the world. Europeans may have it better, but maybe not by much.
Hayley’s murderer acknowledges all without batting an eyelid – a charming psychopath with ice in his veins
They always get their man … Sunny and Cassie. Photograph: Des Willie/ITV
In the end, there was no twin switcheroo, bad boyfriend or secret pregnancy that did for Hayley. It was stupid luck that saw her run into Tim Finch on that particular night, he in that particular mood, she being his particular sort. When the underwear in his box is matched to murdered teen Alison Baldwin, Tim confesses to her and Hayley’s murders over a cup of tea. He mentions breezily, by the by, that there are more bodies out there.
It all becomes too much for Cassie, who walks away from the case and into a much-needed sabbatical. She’s been neglecting self-care for some time and takes the chance to reconcile with her father and kickstart what looks like a very promising romance with former DCI John Bentley (a man shamelessly libelled in the comments – I expect full abjuration below the line). After all the horror, it’s good to end on a positive note. We finish in a gorgeous woodland cemetery, Cassie and Sunny joining Jessica and Suzanne at Hayley’s final resting place, facing into the sun.
We have a tendency to regard Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's music as having appeared fully formed into the world, not least because we hear it performed almost exclusively in a highly refined state of near-perfection. That makes any glimpse into the process of its creation all the more valuable, and the British Library has now provided us with much more than such a peek: at its site you can now read Mozart's own thirty-page musical diary, a record of "his compositions in the last seven years of his life" and thus "a uniquely important document" in the history of classical music.
The British Library notes that during the period from February 1784 until December 1791 that the diary covers, Mozart "composed many of his best-known works, including his five adult operas, several of his most beautiful piano sonatas, and his last three great symphonies, as well as several famous lesser works."
Abstract: This essay discusses the notions of “extension” and “prosthesis” as two different logics and modes of being with technology. I trace the two terms to the work of Marshall McLuhan, influenced by the work of Norbert Wiener and Buckminster Fuller. I argue that the logic of softwarisation is similar to the logic of extension, while the logic of appification is similar to that of prosthesis. I argue that these logics also map onto the logics of metonymy and metaphor. I explain why such a distinction is useful for reading mobile apps and the computing practices they enable. I conclude by raising questions about users’ complicity within the bio-technological cybernetic assemblage: What does the user of these technologies want? Is she able to confront her desire through their use? Why is the demanding swarm of parasitic ‘media species’, such as apps, so determined to get under the user’s skin?
A couple of very tough months are ahead for the wildfire season and firefighting attempts in the western United States, especially California.
Approximately 110 large wildfires are burning across the U.S., and most of these fires are burning in the West, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Countless acres of brush, which growth was spurred on by winter and spring moisture, have had all summer to dry out.
Extreme heat, dryness, burning sunshine and accidental and intentional incidents by humans have already contributed to an intimidating fire year.
As much as 90 percent of wildfires in the U.S. are generated by humans, according to the National Park Service.
Edinburgh fringe 2018. (Some)Body by PosleSlov. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian
Sex sells, which explains why performers have been getting their tools off at the fringe for years. But my flesh odyssey was also mind-bending – and profoundly moving
Fifteen naked people in a single day is a record for me. For a Monday, at least. I am in Edinburgh to attend the fringe, where I have been given a short to … well, avoid briefs. Ban bras, skirt skirts – free willy. Go to Edinburgh, and see the naked shows, was the plan. Bring a towel to sit on, a venue said.
Nudity is not new at the fringe, established in 1947 when eight theatre companies decided to turn up uninvited and stage their own shows alongside the Edinburgh international festival. This sounds a bit like turning up outside someone’s house with a boombox, but it obviously proved successful. Last year, the Fringe consisted of more than 3,000 shows in 300 venues.
If sexual intercourse began, as the poet Philip Larkin claimed, in 1963, nudity came at the Fringe the same year. In what became known as the Lady MacChatterley trial, 18-year-old Anna Kesselaar found herself in court on charges of lewdness for taking part in what was referred to in the press as a “happening”: being wheeled naked on a trolley across a gallery at the launch of publisher John Calder and Traverse Theatre founder Jim Haynes’ Drama Conference in the McEwan Hall.
In a 2012 interview, the then 68-year-old Kesselaar rather brilliantly told the Scotsman: “I did it for art. And £4.” At the time, Kesselaar was branded “sick in mind, hand and heart” by the city’s Lord Provost, and had to flee to London such was the scandal.
Large flames are seen on a hillside outside the village of Monchique (Picture: AP)
The blast has dashed over a slope run for seven days, in the midst of hot and dry temperatures. Experts in Portugal and Spain said they have stopped real out of control fires however cautioned the fight isn't finished yet. Bulldozers working during that time to make firebreaks helped stop a burst in southern Portugal's Algarve area, the Civil Protection Agency said. Temperatures additionally fell, with a most extreme of 26 degrees Celsius estimate for Thursday.
Be that as it may, the fire's border estimated in excess of 60 miles and blasting breezes could trigger reignitions, Patricia Gaspar, the Civil Protection Agency's delegate administrator, said. Just about 1,300 firefighters with 389 vehicles and eight airplane are conveyed at the blast. Military units are watching backwoods to check for crisp flare-ups, Gaspar said. The fire, in the zone around Monchique, around 180 miles south of the capital, Lisbon, has scorched just about 58,000 sections of land of forest, as per the European Forest Fire Information System. In excess of 40 individuals have been harmed, one of them truly, and hundreds cleared from towns and villages amid Portugal's most exceedingly bad out of control fire of the year. In neighboring Spain, light medium-term rain helped stop the advance of a fierce blaze close Valencia, on the Mediterranean drift. Experts trusted that would enable them to put the fire out Thursday following a four-day burst that burned around 7,400 sections of land. Firefighters there were bolstered by 31 flying machine.
Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, is charged with two counts of arson and other crimes.
The man charged for starting a Southern California blaze that forced the evacuation of 20,000 residents sent a text to a volunteer fire chief two weeks ago saying, "The place is going to burn," the chief said Thursday.
The Holy Fire began in Monday in the Cleveland National Forest's Holy Jim Canyon and has so far destroyed a dozen structures, according to fire authorities.
Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Milligan, 71, says he's known the pyromania suspect, Forrest Gordon Clark, for decades and has long warned that he posed a danger to the community.
"I've been trying for years to get someone to pay attention and nobody has really had the opportunity to do that until now," he said.
Milligan said he was so careful of Clark that he avoided altogether going to the area of the remote Orange County canyon where the 51-year-old Clark lives, he said. Nonetheless, Clark came to his home two weeks ago to return article he said he had "borrowed" from the fire department, he said.
"I said 'I want nothing to do with you, Forrest. Just go,'" Milligan said. "He was being gentlemanly in the beginning and turned and then swore at me and turned and left and was quoting the Bible. Later, he came back and told me what a jerk I was and everyone was after him."
Tom Bossert (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP (2), Getty Images)
Midst mounting warnings about another Russian cyber attack on the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump’s former homeland security adviser said a recent staff alarm ordered by national security adviser John Bolton has left the White House with nobody in charge of U.S. cyber policy and raised concerns about “who is minding the store.”
“On cyber, there is no clear person and or clear driver, and there is no clear muscle memory,” said Tom Bossert, who served as White House homeland security adviser until last April, in an interview with the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery.
“In some way playing jazz music, improvising policy because there is no clear playbook for it,” Bossert said. “And so, yes, if you’re asking me do I have any concerns? The concern would be who’s minding the store in the coordination and development … of new and creative cyber policies and strategies.”
The grandest contest in British literature is about to begin. Whose numbers will rise up this year?
Photograph: Sherry Moore/Alamy
Sports fans still lamenting the end of FIFA’s football fiesta can perhaps console themselves with the opening round of the literary world’s favorite game: posh bingo. The Booker prize will unveil the runners and riders on this year’s longlist as Monday night turns into Tuesday morning.
So who will it be? Jostling this year to fill the slots generally reserved for former winners are Michael Ondaatje – fresh from his Golden Booker triumph – Pat Barker, Peter Carey, Alan Hollinghurst and Julian Barnes. Lining up to feature as American invaders are Anne Tyler, Richard Powers, Rachel Kushner and Madeline Miller, who face off against established home-team names such as Aminatta Forna, Jim Crace, Andrew Miller and Rachel Cusk. And could this be the year that Ali Smith finally gets a Booker prize? Or indeed Kate Atkinson – maybe Transcription will dictate this year’s conclusion.
Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson commence their doubleheader Twins of Evil: The Second Coming tour of the US and Canada today, and to celebrate – and maybe demonstrate that they haven't turned out to be sheltered in their seniority – the combine have recorded a front of The Beatles track Helter Skelter – the tune that professedly propelled Charles Manson (it most likely didn't, yet how about we not ruin the folklore). It's a quite splitting front of maybe the best Beatles track, we think. In spite of the fact that Siouxsie and the Banshees presumably still have the edge on fronts of the tune.
The 10 Rules for Students and Teachers Popularized by John Cage: “Nothing Is a Mistake,” “Consider Everything an Experiment”
The Brian Eno archive More Dark than Shark recently posted on its Twitter account a list of posted on its Twitter account and teachers used by John Cage. Though much has been written about the artistic affinities between Eno and Cage, both of whose compositions have pushed the boundaries of how we think about music itself, they also both have a deep connection to the idea of using rules to enhance the experience of creation. Where Eno has his bedeck of creative process-enhancing Oblique Strategies cards, Cage had this list of rules first composed by an educator, silkscreen artist, and nun named Sister Corita Kent..
Kent came up with the list, writes Brainpickings' Maria Popova, "as part of a project for a class she taught in 1967-1968. It was subsequently appropriated as the official art department rules at the college of LA’s Immaculate Heart Convent, her alma mater, but was commonly popularized by Cage, whom the tenth rule cites directly." That tenth rule, more of a meta-rule, reminds the reader that "we're breaking all the rules" by "leaving plenty of room for X quantities." But one can easily imagine how the previous nine, having as much to do with the pleasure of the work of learning, teaching, and creating as with its rigorous performance, might appeal to Cage as well. The complete list runs as follows:
The Fawlty Towers star rails against the government, the BBC and British newspapers in an platform appearance for Hacked Off
It was hard to know what to expect of a solo show by John Cleese, organised by the campaign group. On 29 June, the comedian tweeted that it would be a “speech” but, by 5 July, he was calling it a “new one-hour comedy show”.
Cleese has experimented with standup as crowd-funding before. The audience helped to pay for his third divorce. The £30 ticket for this event (including an entry in a draw for a dinner with Cleese) was bankrolling Hacked Off’s campaign to seek judicial review of the government’s decision to leave the planned second phase of the Leveson probe into journalistic ethics, which would investigate the relationship between the press and police.
On Sunday at 7.30pm, there were 250 people in the at London’s Royal Geographic Society, which seems popular with former members of Monty Python: Michael Palin has been the society’s president for three years.
Above the stage hung a vast black and white photograph of Cleese looking gloomy, next to the words, “Why There Is No Hope”. It soon became clear that anyone drawn in by the love of would get only the intemperate manner, as Cleese read a 45-minute lecture from a large Autocue screen about how culture has been engulfed by stupidity.
Every artist explores dimensions of space and place, orienting themselves and their works in the world, and orienting their viewers. Then there are artists like Vincent van Gogh, who make space and place a primary subject. In his early paintings of peasant homes and fields, his figures’ muscular shoulders and hands interact with solid walls and knotted trees. Later country scenes—whether curling and delicate, like Wheatfield with a Reaper, or heavy and ominous, like Wheatfield with Crows (both below)—give us the sense of the landscape as a single living entity, pulsating, writhing, blazing in brilliant yellows, reds, greens, and blues.
Van Gogh painted interior scenes, such as his famous The Bedroom, at the top (the first of three versions), with an eye toward using color as the means of making space purposeful: “It’s just simply my bedroom,” he wrote to Paul Gauguin of the 1888 painting, “only here color is to do everything… to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.”
When Jean-Paul Sartre Had a Bad Mescaline Trip and Then Hallucinated, for Years, That He Was Being Followed by Crabs
Sometimes when confronted with strange new ideas, people will whoop “you must be on drugs!”—a charge often obtruded at philosophers by those who would rather dismiss their ideas as hallucinations than take them seriously. But, then, to be fair, sometimes philosophers are on drugs. Take Jean-Paul Sartre. “Before Hunter S. Thompson was driving around in cabriolet stocked full of acid, cocaine, mescaline and tequila,” notes Critical Theory, Sartre almost approached the gonzo journalist’s habitual intake.
According to Annie Cohen-Solal, who wrote a biography of Sartre, his daily drug consumption was thus: two packs of cigarettes, several tobacco pipes, over a quart of alcohol (wine, beer, vodka, whisky etc.), two hundred milligrams of amphetamines, fifteen grams of aspirin, a boat load of barbiturates, some coffee, tea, and a few “heavy” meals (whatever those might have been).