Aug 20, 2011

From Deep in the Noise

      It’s time to leave all the old ideologies behind, which means it is time to stop having ideologies.  Perhaps it is time to stop having ideas at all, since there are so many swarming around that it impossible to classify them, a swarm of ideas like millions of butterflies each with a different wing pattern and shape, and a few of us running around in a panic trying to identify each.  Someone will ask, “Are you on the left or the right?” and we will answer, “I don’t know what that means”.  They will ask, “Are you communists or something?”, and we will answer, “No, I don’t believe in systems.”  They will ask, “Are you anarchists, then?” and we’ll have to answer, “Stop playing in labels, they only exist to make you feel better.”
     There is no one on the left and no one on the right.  There was never anyone on either side, just a lot of noise being thrown about aimlessly, sometimes bullets and sometimes other brutality, sometimes torture and sometimes exile, but really it was just a lot of noise that didn’t accomplish very much.  All the same old machines kept on turning, oblivious to all of the noise.  They didn’t miss a beat, or they watched the game from the sidelines, drinking beer and eating hotdogs, not from the executive suites windowed off from the crowd, but right down in the midst of it all, innocuous as anyone.
     Communism and capitalism, socialism and anarchism, these are ideas, fragments of static in the noise.  They are representations, which is the same as saying they are fictions.  They are absurd reductions with the pretension of explanation.  Someone says, “Capitalism is failing”, but what does that really mean?  There is more joblessness, more poverty, more wealth in the hands of the very rich and less in the hands of the very poor, less production?  To begin with, if capitalism is representative of anything, it would seem in that case to be doing very well for itself.  Our mistake is thinking it would ever do well for us.    
     That, of course, is the problem.  The idea, as always, ends up serving the idea, and everything else fades in importance.  We, as always, end up servants of the idea, working fervently to maintain the idea despite all good moral judgement and despite visions of horror.  The idea, as always, wants to maintain itself.  All systems, as always, want to maintain themselves.  
      When it has been “communism” the mode of maintaining itself has often been similar to all others: oppression, imprisonment, totalitarianism, reactionary modes to a world largely arrayed against it, natural, as it were, responses of a system born and living constantly under threat.   
     When it has been “capitalism” we have been spared, some of us even prospering, so long as capitalism does well for itself.  Now it comes under some sort of threat, now the cracks begin (but again, since as Marx pointed out, everything occurs twice: first as tragedy and then as farce, with the Great Depression and subsequent second world war as the tragedy, and the postwar period as a drawn out farce growing more absurd, more hilarious, more decadent and depraved, by the moment), now we feel it coming down on us.  
     We’ve all seen “The Matrix” at this point.  Systems want to replicate themselves and maintain themselves.  This is why Nietzsche, in the “Twilight of the Idols”, called it philosophizing with a hammer; the systems must be broken for anything new to be made. Almost every time, it seems, we merely attempt to replace one system with another system, which is more beloved of us because it is our own, or we lay claim to it, and at which point we are all hapless Trotskys watching in abject sorrow as the idea runs away and turns into a carnival of horror.
      There isn’t the left and there isn’t the right.  We aren’t interested in being another part of the noise, another feature in the desolate sideshow.  Someone will want to say that is apolitical, and maybe they are right, since this seems somehow beyond, underneath, or at a different wavelength all together from what is called politics, which is, above all, a game that maintains a consistent level of noise.  
      This is the resistance.  That’s it.  This is the arranging of oneself against systems because those systems have arranged themselves against us.  It has nothing to do at the beginning with capitalism  or communism, with left or right, though it has quite a bit to do with love and quite a bit to do with resilience, quite a bit to do with serving ourselves rather than replacements for dead gods.  
     Make something new that doesn't depend on subservience to anything.  Cooperate.  Construct.  Learn from rhizomatic forms.  Reject hierarchy.  Sing, dance and act loudly.  Don't think about what it is supposed to look like.  Throw out the masterplan.  Listen.  Begin.

1 comment:

Anthony Cristofani said...

When it has been “capitalism” we have been spared, some of us even prospering, so long as capitalism does well for itself. "

After your Privilege blog, you should revise this! We weren't spared under capitalism. Not most of us. To the extent we were, it was only spared from starving, cold. We weren't spared from the cultural toxins of that kind of selfishness masquerading as an economic system.

I'm not sold on the lack of need of labels. Communism is an idea, yes, just an idea. But a much better one than capitalism. Let's accept that or we can't move on to figuring out how to make it work better than others did.