I never really thought about my ideal group, but then I realized that most of my groups are an ideal group for me. I have typically crossed boundaries more than I have stuck with homogenous groups. When I think of who impressed on me my values for how I group early in life, I think of Billy the Kid, Al Capone and Martin Luther King. This desire to group on merit of the individual rather than based on some racial or traditional bias. This dream of MLK I found I agreed with and I disagreed with Hitler and killing Jewish people, but agreed with Nietzsche on individual will to power.
I remember a lot of the white kids being interested in Hitler and Mein Kampf, as well as adults teaching the children about Hitler in my neighborhood. At about the age of 8 I got interest in Nietzsche after I dismissed Hitler after exposure to World War 2 media about the Jewish Holocaust. Being a Royal Ranger, we were Zionist Christians and I would swear allegiance to the flags of America, the Christian flag and “the Star of David”. We didn’t have to, but they did expose us to the allegiances and the flags were all next to each other, so some of us would. Along with the Golden Rule: “Do unto other as you would have done onto you” Hitler became an image of an anti-Christ type of figure. He went against the Golden Rule. MLK’s ideas were supported as a good Christian man, but also white racism was often apparent among the other white youth within the Rangers, which was acceptable. We also had Jewish members even though it was a Christian Centric group, but they would be allowed to not swear to allegiance to the Christian flag and instead just the Star of David.
Nietzsche became an early influence, though I didn’t really read him as much as gain exposure to different authors on his concepts, of which I developed my own interpretations. He was an influence on Hitler and I saw in the overman the individual power rather than racial power. That I needed to separate myself from other people because most people were stupid and I would be caught in the ghetto if I didn’t become something. But I had to get along and I had to make alliances if I wanted to walk around my neighborhood. I enjoyed alliances primarily with a mix of Asian immigrants, primarily from Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) and Korea.
To me an individual will look at each person separately if given the opportunity, but if not given such, then the default must be understood. Homogenous groups of white, black or Asian (not many Hispanics, though there were some, as well as people from the Philippines). This opinion was shared by other strong members of the youth community in our neighborhood. My primary enemies in my neighborhood were the white trash kids across the street, followed by the black homogenous groups that would jump me regularly.
My response to getting jumped was to group up with primarily at first the Asians and when they didn’t help me (stood back and allowed me to get jumped), I rallied all the kids in my school that were getting bullied and jumped by the same people, which were dorky black kids as well as dorky white kids and non-Asian immigrants. We’d walk home together and had one battle in a back alley with one homogenous black group, came out triumphant and never got messed with again.
For me, heterogeneous groups have been the norm until I reached high school and even then I grouped with social misfits and was exposed to goth and punk culture. I developed an understanding of being poor in middle class circles, but I preferred being here than in the ghetto. Around the same time, getting into acting helped cross boundaries again since blacks, empowered women, homosexuals, alternative lifestyle people were attracted to acting, being cosmopolitan was to be the norm.
Only when I reached the activist group did I feel this heavy amount of guilt and resentment from people. This constant shaming and lack of an understanding of how to get along with people. Where entire theories and ideologies of people were created just to split people apart in order to empower them. This is all still alien to me. I never really was an activist, though I was an anti-racist and in Columbus ARA. I’ve always worked on small localized projects and I prefer it that way.
I do like that there are anarchists doing great media works and getting national or international attention, but in order for anarchists to move forward, perhaps we don’t need a theory on why a certain people suck but rather an ethic of cosmopolitan behavior and a drive to break down boundaries within ourselves rather than reinforce them? This was, to me, what anarchists were about. Now a days, I fear interacting with other anarchists for I might not relate with them well. I don’t like people telling me how to talk or think nor to point out the origin of some word when they damn well know that the common parlance isn’t in line and is evolving away from word origins, as they well should. I see resistance to this, but then a reluctant giving in on some words while others are reinforced as solid points of taboo.
I think this is where my attraction to comics started, as they regularly challenged taboos in a funny way, especially in how words are used, which gets you thinking about it. Despite this rather prevalent way of interacting, most anarchists fail to interact with stand up comic influences in popular culture directly. Identity politicians vs. Stand up Comics is a very real dichotomy that needs exploration. George Carlin’s view might sound like populism, but they are how people relate and identity politicians represent an opposing poll. They want words to mean things, they want identity to mean things, while comics like George Carlin wanted to break down meaning, to expose how meaningless meaning is and how alternative meanings can be found if one pays attention.
To me, identity politicians represent the worst type of people. Implicit bigots that rationalize their bigotry and can’t even see they are merely the cutting edge of capitalism, a petite bourgeois phenomenon that capitalism not only can, but is adjusting to and doing so with ease, despite the hyped debates like this nonsense about Kim Davis. To many, this is a push of progress, while to others, this is a story about how the establishment is working to further consolidate its power without a lot of resistance. There is so much more going on, like the death of the planet. So maybe being cosmopolitan as a given should be our approach rather than shaming? We don’t have to go out of our way to find others, but by being open and attempting to attract people that want to also break down barriers, we can do this together. One doesn’t need to sacrifice their identity, but challenge the given notions of identity and try to get along.
Well, some of you may know sometime around the early 2000s I coined “dickpro” for dictatorship of the proletariat, which caught on briefly before people blew it off once they realized it wasn’t an actual thing, just me being silly. For me, the concept makes a great deal of sense, but seeing as it isn’t part of anarchist discourse (and many have rebelled against its use, despite its utility), I understand the misgivings. In anarchist discourse, a dictatorship will always end up as a form of state, even if it is a class dictatorship.
In today’s world, it does sound kind of ridiculous to think the bloated bureaucracies of government and business as somehow playing a role in freeing us, simply by casting off their hierarchies, playing in its stead typically systems of delegates, but keeping the mass form as organized to best operate within capitalism. Unions want just this, even the syndicalist ones. By creating a counter bureaucracy which drives the workers towards revolution, they thought they might succeed, but they didn’t realize the power of compromise and how capitalism just outpaces all union efforts, shrinking them still even further than they’ve shrunk since their fall from the heights. There are worker protests and strikes, but they don’t translate these demonstrations into anything more than a continuation of the compromise.
It has been a long time since workers played a primary role, as workers, in any struggle. And as many know a “worker” is not necessarily a proletarian as described by Marxists. There is this need for the worker to be in a state where their property and possession are either meager and non-existent and they are from this position aware of their role in the economy compared to a capitalist and they are also aware of capitalism. This is all very much to absorb and perhaps in Marx’s day, this was very possible, today, this level of awareness is deflected by the Spectacle, the conversation surrounding the images and media that permeates our lives. I’d say in addition to this, affluent societies also offer survivable wages. Often more so. Poor people watch cable, have smartphones, tap into Facebook, go to an occasional event, occasionally eat out, etc. Perhaps I’m fudging a little, but this is basically why there is no movement, to some.
Some have also suggested that perhaps it is the immigrant workers that are proletarian? Maybe perhaps also working class blacks, Hispanics and Indigenous? If they are, they are also wrapped up in popular struggles and given the dominant theories of today, even among anarchists, I don’t see any claiming proletarian status nor stepping up to the plate in any sort of class struggle. We think, the struggle will become us. It is historically inevitable. Even if it takes a thousand years, capitalism will topple. Or so we thought.
I think we don’t give them enough credit. I think most people understand they have a short end of the stick, but easily stick to the logic of capitalism. Its banal, mediocre, civil society, a reification of the commons translated into mass society, yet all is dominated by some need to produce they even volunteer within civil society. Civil society is the nice, safe face of domination and it has something for everyone! Another part of the economy, religious institutions, unions, community organizations, civic groups, NGOs, non-profits, all are part of a general compromise capitalism has to make to survive.
Or perhaps business has to make this compromise to survive would be more specific. The state exists to protect business, but civil society exists as a buffer between the general population and those that seek to exploit them. Instead of rebelling, turn to civil society, turn to civil court. Sue someone and get rich. Or at least use the bureaucracy and get back at those that got you. It might cost some money and ultimately lead to more loses than anyone getting rich quick, but the logic is in most people to respond to. Now broke? Well apply for benefits. Lost your job? Apply for unemployment. As people jump the hoops or fall through the net, the numbers are scattered, the ability grab a cohesive logic of their situation is confused by accepting this mediation.
Obviously this is a deterrent and not a wall to anyone rising up, but then, there is the next problems. Activism and protests tend to be where people end up falling towards when it seems a conflict is wanted with the system. More mediation, more paperwork to fill out, permits to get. More action to help in the negotiation, whether implicit or explicit. “Direct action gets the goods” they say. Piecemeal reforms that can’t keep up with capitalist acceleration is what they get. In bad economies, it is so easy to justify ignoring activists because “the economy” you know. It has to work or else everyone is screwed. That isn’t a shared interest. The economy is about making business function and people are perfectly fine if it is broken. It is just the capitalist that makes things worse for everyone. Using the economy as a reason to pay low wages is very clearly a threat. We don’t need the economy and capitalist threats for not producing amount to an implicit “we aren’t able to negotiate because we don’t have the money for it” while at the same time still holding all the cards. We can’t just walk away and go back to doing whatever. Our world has been transformed.
So if there is no proletariat, there is no running away, there is no going back, then what do we have? Continue the compromise or try to find ways to break the compromise. So many deterrents, so many ways to be distracted, to embrace the logic of negotiation, to feel the fatalist claw of inevitability. What isn’t a distraction?
Beginning Thoughts on the Work Abolitionist League
Purpose: To offer a open, explicit direction for a work abolitionist group to exist outside the activist frame of mind and scene ghettos which far too often absorb people into any variety of deferments to the abolition of work, that is wage slavery, all other forms of slavery and anything else that could be considered a coercive relationship of activity, that is, anything that is not voluntary activity shared between people. This is the type of society we seek to create. Because the activist frame of mind and the illegalist frame of mind have both failed to generate success in either numbers or in individuals informed on the conviction to abolish work, we are taking a new step forward into participation in the (primarily middle class) areas of civic responsibility.
We see this as necessary as the edge of anarchy and communism is constantly dulled by their participation in countercultural pursuits, as well as held back by ideologies which seek either to rationalize or justify work in some sort of way or defer the priority of work abolition to a later date, often for the benefit of smoothing the reasons to rebel against a society that worships work and its progressive mentality. As these groups turn in on themselves it is clear that the counter culture and university scenes have confused negotiation for rebellion and piecemeal reforms as part of a “progress” towards an egalitarian society. We have instead decided it is our civic duty to work with our neighbors towards the abolition of work.
We seek to show that the voluntary behaviors we desire are those for a community that helps each other without a forced relationship between them. While the radical implications are for a total destruction of society as we know it, our move towards work abolition need not take a militant form. In fact, it is the ludic group and not the militant one that has hope of breaking out of countercultural ghettoization. Of ludic groups, the civic association offers the ability to shape our neighborhoods and with a vision of work abolition in mind, the civic association can prepare their neighborhoods for ending the need for work, so should a withdraw occur (permanent strike), our neighborhoods are prepared to absorb as much of the impact from this withdraw.
Given our age of crisis, this behavior can’t be demanded more. It need not take the form of vandalism and other impotent attacks. It need not be confined in an institution that tells us when and when not to rebel, as a union does. It need not direct demands at the government or business to slowly shift the world in the direction we want it to go. Rather, it goes through direct, deliberate activity of making work abolition possible, neighborhood to neighborhood, small town to small town. This is not a small minded activity and like chattel slavery abolition, there will be resistance to our convictions.
Motto: Leisure won’t abolish work.
Potential Activities: Discussion group, gun club, movie night, neighborhood associations, civic associations, Young Adventurers(WAL scout type group), human forager skills, backpacking ventures, feralculture (non-industrial, non-mass, localized permaculture, influenced by forager horticulture), league news bulletin, protest attendance (aim to participate in non-militant but active support roles like medic, scout, blockade construction, de-arresting), social salon potlucks
This was originally to be a group effort. The Wanton Wanderer Society was going to be my strong re-entrance with praxis oriented anarchy. Being that my former partner was showing no strong interest in sharing the weight of the project, I figured it was time to concentrate on individual efforts again.
I have a wishlist on approach, but with just one person, I may find my concentration limited even with this short list:
1. Drifting and Psychogeography: This is the number one activity. The situationists had their reasons, I have mine. How drifting and radical activity merge is difficult to explain abstractly and easier to show when done regularly. I learn where things are, how things change, how to cut through artificial barriers, how urban geography is designed (or has been redesigned) to minimize the potential of unrest. I also learn to see the sterile, banal, everyday. They amount of surveillance as well as the lack of hidden corners where people can just relax as people.
2. Posters: This is the entry point to street propaganda and graffiti crime. It is the media I am using to reach others due to the low risk and ease of replicating. There are many other types of media I’d also enjoy using and may still do so, but this is the easiest to talk about publically and get people more excited about the message rather than potentially upset about the media against the medium (i.e. spray painting on building walls).
3. Psychogeographical Maps: This is to make subjective maps of the urban layout. What do areas feel like can be one way to do it. Another would be to understand where all the surveillance cameras are in an area or where all the good mediums for propaganda are and what kind of media would best fit that medium. Stapling posters to wooden electrical poles while wheatpasting posters to metal light poles could be an example of other mappings that you typically won’t find when toying with the map makers of social order.
4. Journal: The journal is to keep notes on the project and track the history of the project, for the sake of posterity. It is also where the theory of the project would be entered and other relevant notes that discuss techniques and other developments.
5. Communiques: This is an action communication. Less necessary with poster activities, but as this group is also a situational group, thens can change and the communique is a way to explain the action of the group from our own voice rather than leave the media with sole control over our narrative, spreading misinformation and disinformation about what we may do (or not do).
6. Letters: These can be open letters to the public at large or a specific audience, they can be letters to an anarchist journal to engage in a discussion on something that might be relevant to the group or it can be to local newspapers and magazines to challenge their misinformation, disinformation or perhaps to inform.
7. Audio Show: This is an internet audio podcast which engages the greater anarchist audience and its media, as well as presents original music, skits, announcements and anything else that might make sense.
8. Tabling: Tabling and material created for tabling gives people an opportunity to speak face to face with me about the project, get informed on all that is going on as well as potentially growing from a solitary project into something a group or groups of people can engage in.
9. Protests, Demonstrations, Events: All of these are good for outreach and perhaps participation. I’m already beyond my ability to do protest militancy with a bad knee which almost gave out on me in D.C. when the black bloc was charged at with police motorcycles, but I’m not opposed to it as much as critical of the many forces that seek to take advantage and steer such things towards an agenda that reinforces the control of social order.
10. Discussion Groups: These have often been rather fruitful and engaging when I’ve done them. Unlike most discussion groups, I typically enjoy going to a hookah lounge or somewhere else where smoking or drinking can be done casually while talking, which relaxing people and the atmosphere. While most discussion groups don’t end like mine, I have very often ended my discussion groups by inviting everyone to join me on throwing up some posters or graffiti.
I can add more, but these are all just preliminary thoughts to put out as I continue starting this project.
So I start my new project alone. I had initially wanted to work with my usual partner in activity, but I feel I can carry the weight of the project better until I find others that want to share the weight rather than just walk with me, watching me carry the weight, but not caring to take on a little themselves.
This isn’t the first time I’ve worked alone and most typically, once I’m consciously working alone, I move into what I like to call “conspiratorial mindset”. Keeping to no long term strategies, the conspiracy is to look for holes and weaknesses in the system that can be exploited while also searching for more accomplices. This approach has no way to gain any sort of large scale success from my own direction, but it does open up far more possibilities than just sitting at home, watching TV. Then when it does come time, when people finally enter my life with enough sentiment as mine, I have a long, continuous trajectory of activity that I know of no other being able to match.
My acts of destruction started early in my life. We used BB guns, sling shots or just threw rocks through windows of people’s houses, churches, schools. We set fire to trash cans, trash dumpsters, then later garages and abandoned houses. Our favorite weekly activity was setting the school dumpster on fire. Our cohesion was strong and we were fast becoming a force that claimed local headlines, everyone between the ages of 8 and 12. Some of my friends broke away and worked independently, which is where things started going sour. No longer with me there to provide a level head, bigger actions were wanted. One of my friends who lived with his mother on the weekdays burned an apartment complex and a large church to the ground. However, this is where it peaked and our cohesion was breaking down. It was only with the disintegration of my old vandal/arson crew after one of our crew members burned an old lady’s house down, killing her in the process, which sent the youngest of us (age 6) to prison for murder and ended our cohesion. Later in life I learned that every other member of my crew was killed, two in prison and one murdered over drug money.
Shortly afterword, my family moved and not long after I ran into a new group of people who were into graffiti and vandalism, typically targeting Churches, small towns, bigots, abandoned buildings and random thrill destruction. We were a gothic punk vandal group of friends. All went well until an old friend to the group, not an old friend to me, showed up and was appalled that we were vandalizing churches with anti-Christian messages like “God gives good head”. Very quickly my new group of friends that had enjoyed so much fun together vandalizing, abandoned the practice, which was demoralizing. Only a few of the younger friends in the group continued to agree with me. Vandalism is fun. Graffiti is fun.
We attacked very few Churches after this, at least as a group. I continued by myself for a while with several attacks, usually assisted by the younger friends as they weren’t included in the older kids fun, though we favored schools more than churches during this period. Of this group, the youngest took it the most seriously and soon became a graffiti artist. For me, graffiti was never about the art, though I can’t say I don’t appreciate good aesthetics.
Then we started getting older and graduating. The older friends, whom roleplaying was our primary connection, almost to the very last one moved out of town. This left me feeling abandoned, but then I just mixed with the youngest, the graffiti artist. He had developed a graffiti artist crew around him which I participated in from time to time. Not being a graffiti artist (I prefer graffitist or graffiti criminal over artist) I did not have feels for the handle throw ups that most graffiti artists enjoyed. I did enjoy the calligraphy of graffiti as it evolved. The more advanced graffiti artists were developing a very difficult calligraphy which could only be read by experienced artists.
During this same period, we began participating in Anti-Racist Action. I had become disillusioned with college and found myself in the company of gutter punks, drug dealers, street thugs in the area than with the college kids of which I held very little affinity with. Through ARA, I connected with the graffiti crew “Writers for Revolution” and while I was always outlier, always a friendly accomplice rather than a member, I enjoyed this association.
Then a split in ARA happened. It wasn’t so much of a split between two sides against each other as much as a split between those that wanted to fuck up an ARA/WFR member and those that thought they were being outrageous over insignificant slights and misunderstandings. Because those that wanted to beat up the member were the ARA core (at that time) and those that didn’t were more newly identified accomplices, no permanent resolution was made by ARA as a whole. The ARA core that wanted to beat up the member attempted to jump the member in a dark alley one day, but he escaped into a convenience store, where they catcalled him from the outside to come out to get fucked up. He opted to call the police instead for his own safety.
The ARA core used this incident in a more ridiculous manner, accusing him of being a snitch and police informant. I did not buy this explanation. Their pressing of violence against this member impacted me a great deal, making me a critic of snitchjacketing. However, this did not destroy the firmly established ARA nor harm WFR too much, but this fellow had been excluded. Of those that sided with the member, we held a potluck to discuss the formation of a new group “Fuck Shit Up” and tried to come up with new antics that would out pace and out show the established militant radicals. What actually did occur were multiple graffiti campaigns and some minor property destruction that I was out of the loop on to get details.
FSU mastered one of my favorite tactics, the post-party graffiti and poster bombing with some minor vandalism. Basically as the party dies down and most people that were there just to socialize superficially were gone, the drunken core is left talking about the good ole days, then suddenly we are like “we can do that now”. The best of these I can remember is getting old left hippies who were parents and friends of parents of one of our members to join in with FSU on a 4 prong graffiti and poster bombing. Over 20 people participated out of the thrill and fun of it.
After this, my blog post on Columbus RAAN history kicks in: http://hpwombat.anarchyplanet.org/2009/09/14/a-brief-history-of-columbus-raan/
This blog is currently undergoing a clean up. Some old drafts that weren’t finished were published just because they were sitting for years. I doubt anything worthwhile can be found in any of my archives. Once I have time to move everything around and pull these from the news feed (probably make each post into a page and link them through an archive, but that is just thinking out loud). Everything above this post on the feed is new.
To understand the praxis heterodoxy I am experimenting with it is good to understand “Contribution to a Situationist Definition of Play”. There are other S.I. documents of importance regarding ludic activity and give more detail as to what the S.I. means by “play”. However, this is good for understanding an initial approach to its meaning.
Professional sports are largely a spectator activity, though some do emulate their professional heroes and something I’ve always found to be an inferior approach to “play”. While I am a fan of the UFC, it isn’t an addiction, something I put time into actively seeking. Rather my “fan” status is part of a default when television occupies my free time. When I consider what to do with my free time, it isn’t television that comes to mind, that happens when I’m not being considerate. Television, and now the Internet are default forms of leisure and sometimes play.
Even going to the professional sports event, the spectator aspect is still there. I’m often left feeling bored at sports events. In fact, I often enjoy the immediate viewing of a sports event less than watching television as a ludic pursuit. I have less access, less control over my environment. I’m crowded by others who are often obnoxious and/or rude when they are interacted with at all. Beer and food is more expensive. I can’t see what is going on as good as I could at home. Lines are everywhere. It just is an unpleasant experience to be a spectator at a sports event.
What I also dislike is the amount of free time that goes into studying every aspect of a professional sport by their fans. It isn’t attempting to learn how to play football for most…it is more getting into the social lives of their teams, the rankings they hold versus other teams and players versus players. The competitive element is interesting for the athlete that is actually playing the game, but for the fans..I don’t understand how people could connect themselves to a team in such a way that they feel something akin to patriotism for their chosen teams, even when never directly interacting with such teams. For these people, going to a sports event is a height within their own lives, something they can even brag about. To get good seating in such horrid events is elitist and expensive.
Then there are the commodities that surround the sports event. Clothing like jerseys, baseball caps, shirts, pants, shoes, socks, etc. A person can mix and match how they dress as a fan. They can dress like the players dress in a pseudo uniform or they can dress in the trademarked homage to their team showing off how big of a fan they are. Then there are the coffee mugs, the calendars, the greeting cards…the list goes on and on. Living in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Ohio State University Buckeyes, I’m in one of the most fanatical American cities for their University football team.
Sports riots are perhaps the only real activity of a fan. The power of the sports team, the crowd milling about sharing in the experience of the game, generates a powerful force that conflicts with the will of City and University authorities. I don’t see sports riots as political events, but rather challenges to city order. Finally the fan can show their love of the sport or their disappointment in their own team by destroying the University District. A sports riot could be considered an autonomous zone of epic proportions that isn’t guided by politics, any end goal nor specifically guided towards combating police. No one ever recuperates a sports riot, instead those that are blamed are called rioters and hooligans, it is the other person that set fires, smashed windows, fought police and had a good ole time with people they just met that night. Years of pent up love for their teams turns the fan into a creature seizing the moment with others.
The impact of sports riots on the city centered once on the University District bars, which have been destroyed in favor of a giant store complex called “the Gateway”. The new bars in this area were developed only for students with a little extra cash and yuppies to enjoy. I don’t remember the old bars as much, but I do recall they were more seedy than the current area. Other redevelopments took out several neighborhoods that hosted riots, turning them into an extension of the university. Since the last major riots in the area the University District has changed the face of its Southwestern boundary and along high street. The University itself has also undergone lots of major constructions, which is a point of contention among students because much of the University’s revenue is still generated by student tuition as well as the continued support of fans.
Campus Partners, the OSU controlled development group, is largely responsible for spearheading the changes while the Columbus Administration under Coleman’s regime has fast tracked most attempts to make development easier and move quicker. The price of gas has made the University District, the Short North, Italian Village, the Arena District and Downtown a hub for yuppies. While Upper Arlington still has a significant amount of Downtown employment, it is still a first rung suburb and it would be dishonest to call someone with a home there a yuppie. Instead opportunities for yuppie housing have sprung up all along the former mentioned neighborhoods, while at the same time increasing living costs in these long time gentrified areas.
Because of the students, the University District has to maintain a certain level of poverty, which also attracts drug dealers which have been known to battle each other over drug related issues resulting in a high number of University District disturbances while remaining outside the University. The students also attract a large number of rapists in the area, which sometimes kidnap and kill their prey, but leaving many survivors who express their rage and frustrations in a variety of ways.
OSU’s greatest propaganda is its football team, but it is not afraid to control its image, its fans, its area and its crime. University police and Columbus police both patrol the University and University District respectively, but they both serve the interests of the city’s social order, which includes OSU, both as an autocratic privately owned village and as a major development corporation. They also rank among the Medical industry with its University Hospital serving the greater needs of the city as well as its students and faculty. There is very little that OSU doesn’t control within itself, it has its own power plant even.
Contribution to a Situationist Definition of Play
Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958)
Translated by Reuben Keehan
THE NOTION OF PLAY can only escape the linguistic and practical confusion surrounding it by being considered in its movement. After two centuries of negation by the continuous idealization of production, the primitive social functions of play are presented as no more than decaying relics mixed with inferior forms that proceed directly from the necessities of the current organization of production. At the same time, the progressive tendencies of play appear in relation to the development of these very forces of production.
The new phase of affirmation of play seems to be characterized by the disappearance of any element of competition. The question of winning or losing, previously almost inseparable from ludic activity, appears linked to all other manifestations of the tension between individuals for the appropriation of goods. The feeling of the importance of winning in the game, that it is about concrete satisfactions — or, more often than not, illusions — is the wretched product of a wretched society. This feeling is naturally exploited by all the conservative forces that serve to mask the atrocious monotony of the conditions of life they themselves impose. One has only to think of all the claims détourned by competitive sports that are imposed in their precisely modern form in Great Britain with the expansion of the factories. Not only do crowds identify with professional players or clubs, which assume the same mythic role as movie stars and statesmen making all the decisions; but the infinite series of results of these competitions do not let their observers feel any of their passion. Direct participation in a game, even between those requiring a little intellectual exercise, ceases to be interesting as soon as competition for its own sake enters the framework of fixed rules. Where the idea of play is involved, nothing arouses so much scorn these days as the declaration that opens [Sawielly] Tartakower’s The Chess Bible: “The game of chess is universally recognized as the king of games.”
The element of competition must disappear in favor of a more authentically collective concept of play: the common creation of selected ludic ambiances. The central distinction that must be transcended is that established between play and ordinary life, play kept as an isolated and provisory exception. “Into an imperfect world and into the confusion of life,” writes Johan Huizinga, “it brings a temporary, a limited perfection.” Ordinary life, previously conditioned by the problem of survival, can be dominated rationally — this possibility is at the heart of every conflict of our time — and play, radically broken from a confined ludic time and space, must invade the whole of life. Perfection will not be its end, at least to the degree that this perfection signifies a static construction opposed to life. But one may propose to push to its perfection the beautiful confusion of life. The baroque — elegantly described by Eugénio d’Ors as “the vacancy of history” — and its organized beyond, play a major role in the coming reign of leisure.
In this historical perspective, play — the permanent experimentation with ludic novelties — appears to be not at all separate from ethics, from the question of the meaning of life. The only success that can be conceived in play is the immediate success of its ambiance, and the constant augmentation of its powers. Thus, even in its present co-existence with the residues of the phase of decline, play cannot be completely emancipated from a competitive aspect; its goal must be at the very least to provoke conditions favorable to direct living. In this sense it is another struggle and representation: the struggle for a life in step with desire, and the concrete representation of such a life.
Due to its marginal existence in relation to the oppressive reality of work, play is often regarded as fictitious. But the work of the situationists is precisely the preparation of ludic possibilities to come. One can thus attempt to neglect the Situationist International to the degree that one easily recognizes a few aspects of a great game. “Nevertheless,” says Huizinga, “as we have already pointed out, the consciousness of play being ‘only a pretend’ does not in any way prevent it from proceeding with the utmost seriousness. . . .”
Here is something to debate. At the moment, given the data, we appear to be gearing up for a very large scale, population destroying war. Eugenics vs. fears of collapse. The energy crisis and the population crisis are interlinked and are by far the most important problems facing the world. The benefits of science and technology has provided a life support system to help create bloated populations, that are now dependent on this life support system so deeply that without it, society would collapse. Traditionally when there are too many people, they die from plagues or starvation while the powerful hide behind their walls and wait out the problem until a solution comes up. Typically war is that solution.
When things become untenable, a state tends to justify a war to make things better. Otherwise they may be overthrown. However, wars are costly, so they could be sending their people off to slaughter with insufficient supplies. I feel that with the instability of the global ecosystem mixing in to the problems of peak energy, lots of states are going to be challenged. But not so much the United States. The very concentrations of wealth that are going on will either defend the United States or will defend the shadow state that empowers the government of the United States to act in its stead. It was mentioned after 9/11 many times, “the shadow government”. It this case, it would be better referred to as “shadow state”. The major corporations, the military and the intelligence network have the power collectively to dissolve the government of the United States should it not go in the direction they want it to go. A good example of this is Egypt’s military vs. the Muslim Brotherhood.
What I’m saying is that the government is just an institution to help a state administrate its power. The United States government is a powerful institution in its own right and if it’s patriots felt it was unjustly being overthrown, a civil war could occur. This civil war would most likely end with the military occupation of the country with a corporate oligarchy replacing the government with something a little more popular, maybe an Evangelical American Empire, to speculate. This isn’t being said to defend the United States, mainly to just say how fragile a government is in the face of the state, when most people feel the state and government are the same thing.
With the recent court decision, the government appears to be nakedly in the hands of the powerful elite. No need for backroom deals when corporate funding of politicians can occur without any real limits. You would think civil war would be in the air, but the fact of the matter is the nation’s population is bought off by the global corporate state, as well. Court settlements everywhere as fracking poisons our ground water, with hush up agreements to hide the spread of information. Our entire lifestyles are bought off, many living in a sci-fi fantasy world surrounded by technological devices and boredom killing distractions that prevent contemplation on what is going on.
Our consumer choices separate our lives just as if we led very different cultures, but the differences have nothing to do with culture. All of this extravagance, all of these various activities a person could do. Children are even separated from parents but consumer choice, separated by work and school. Parents separated by gender. Grandparents are separated into concentration camps to die in. Mental problems? Separated into a prison. One could even break down most crime into many different categories to show how elements of people themselves are being removed from the population. Many families see the government and religion as its ward. These people are also separated from the middle class.
Religion is not gone, it is growing in power. This segment of the population is the largest, yet most people don’t connect how tightly religion is tied to the government of the United States and into the majority culture of the country. It is here that the justification for every horror the Unites States commits is found. They have a very different view of America. They see America as a Christian nation and those that are elected are meant to serve the will of God until the coming of Jesus. However, like most people, they see a foul corruption, but that corruption isn’t related to the population crisis nor the energy crisis. It is the lack of Christian faith this country now holds, when only a few generations ago America was probably the most fundamentalist of Christian peoples on the planet.
With a recent wave of presidents elected by Christian fundamentalists and what seems to be a continuation of this, the policy of power in the United States is meant to be both Christian and corporate. It is the balance of power to be able to continue power in the country
Looking at anarchist primitivism, I want to add a contribution to the discourse. Anarchist primitivism has a reduced number of written contributions the past few years and most that have wanted to make an anti-civilization contribution have done so outside of the tendency. I think what anarchist primitivism may lack is an understanding of how it can be practiced today.
Nevermind the future and move beyond the past, it is the present that I consider. The dominant order continues its control of society through the web of civilization that it engenders. Technology and science act as forces of progress, tied to the ideas that created the ascension of the left. This progress has industrialized the globe. The mass ghettos of urban centers, the poisoned manufacturing towns, drug addiction, prison and rehabilitation, war, control. The people in society link into the Internet as they once watched television. The audience of life watches the old world die and we speculate on a future that is always brighter than the present.
Industrialism ended the need for the mass of population to stay in the fields. The farmer, the peasant, the serf and the slave. Most have rushed to the urban centers of civilization to survive, often at the cost of their life and liberty. Factories once could be criticized for the direct dangers they offer. Today, the arguments stem more on the lack of environmental regulations which transforms the surrounding environment into a toxic waste incapable of supporting healthy ways of living. This does not make the labor any less banal or any more free.
Children are born of defects and hushed voices speak of atrocities that should close the book on the existence of such things. Instead, there is the fear that the business may go elsewhere and leave the surrounding area destitute and empoverished. So little is done to stop this process. Only more demands for control. More demands that domination be more expansive and put the business owner underfoot as the owner puts its workforce.
Gatherer-Hunter ways of life has largely been abandoned. The former practitioners have lost great wars and suffered massive genocide as domination grew. The populations of the dominant order, seeking to create their own world has moved into areas that once fell outside the spheres of control in search of wealth and prestige.
Few actually achieved these goals and as the generations past, even fewer have kept the lands they initially seized. The sharks of the world follow the schools of fish that invaded the fertile seas of the unknown. Now the game is only for the sharks. Even the big fish hide in the coral reef searching to make their way as the large predator haunts the waters.
Small business acts as a revolution for capitalism. Always renewing a system that would otherwise grow old and stagnant. They aim to grow and perhaps even carry an egalitarian message with them. But in their growth, their message is lost. What helps to achieve growth may be remembered, but what doesn’t is forgotten. Control goes hand in hand with the success of these businesses.
Failure is not an option. Fail to grow, fail to bring new things into the system and the large businesses will move in and take over. Grow and the small business becomes large. The only hope a small business has is to maintain and hold out to niche, the shadows of the market. Too minute and costly to absorb, the small business that has no hope to grow also has no hope to become large. Stagnation of these markets will see these small businesses rise and fall, over and over again.
I seem to do well for myself. Though I do accept that perhaps I don’t test myself, what life has handed me isn’t that bad. I enjoy my job, the friends I have, the stuff I do. I don’t feel like I struggle to take care of bills, rather I struggle to find interesting things to spend my money on.
However, this greatness I have taken from life is very precarious. I avoid taking on regular bills. I don’t own a smartphone, just a pay-for cell phone. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I quit smoking cigarettes. I reduced my drinking. I smoke pot less often.
I saw my life somewhat change after I was put on suspension at work and then attempted to go through drug therapy. While going through it, the encouragement to take bold steps and fundamentally change how your life is created is strong. Once away from therapy, old relationships become important again. Ways of interacting with others through drug or alcohol use seem more interesting and fulfilling as that is the company I prefer that has come into my life.
However, what I did take from my therapy experience is a desire to live life more. While I was already doing so since I had shifted my life in 2005, I added just enough alteration leading me back towards enjoying theater, comedy shows, acting and performance arts in general. New friends gained that are also in search of something more interesting than what they are currently surrounded by has mixed this enjoyment with my love of the outdoors. My new friends want to not just go to a show with me, but also camping, canoeing, walks and so on.
While they may not share my thoughts on anarchy nor play games, as has been my typical fallback interests, I am pleased that my life has produced friends whenever I felt in need to change the mix of things. This would not be the first time that I’ve added associations when older relationships are waning in one way or another.
I think one of the reasons things go well for me is because I attempt to find enjoyment in what others dread. Having a positive attitude is attractive and makes others feel they can trust and rely on me.
Recently, there has been this theme surrounding cruel humor. What is my style of humor IRL vs. my Internet humor? My IRL humor is pun’erific and often observational. But also in my real social life, I don’t have dickheads trying to ego banter with me. The Internet is how I behave when I’m by myself in a crowd of unhelpful people that not only don’t want to respect me as an individual, but want to find some way to knock me down a few notches just about whenever I express myself.
I’ll tease friends that tease me, but that is done within a certain safety where a relationship has been established. On the Internet where niceness is being mute, standing out requires a certain about of thick skin that can go back and forth with others that want to not just prove I am wrong, but also prove that I lack appropriate intelligence for the conversations we are engaging in.
While I do love dark and blue comedy and will at times find myself speaking in such a way, most times I tend to be more reserved. I make the friends I have by being actually helpful in their lives, both as an outlet for recreation and as a person that can help with the small stuff. I can at times make plenty of jokes, but that isn’t who I am. I am not a comedian performing in real life.
On the Internet, perhaps I am a performer. I do tend towards a type of humor because I feel it is funny not just for me, but perhaps funny to others. Sometimes my sides are splitting when I write stuff. Perhaps friends matter less with the Internet. Perhaps what I’m wanting are readers and participants rather than friends on the Internet? I guess it is all part of being awesome.