Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.
I will not present anything new in this text. This is mostly a copy paste effort, with small modifications, in an attempt to bring Marx, Vaneigem and perhaps also Debord in to the 21st century.
This text will never be complete, I will take the liberty of forever adding and modifying this text. Note that there is no copyright restriction, please share and alter as you see fit.
Work and Property
What satisfaction of meaningfulness, can remain when being dragged out of sleep at six every morning, jolted about in suburban trains, made to do tedious repetitive tasks, spun dry by statistical controls, and tossed out at the end of the day into the entrance halls of railway stations, those cathedrals of departure for the hell of weekdays and the useless paradise of weekends, where the crowd communes in weariness and boredom?
We make our way forward in an upside-down world that many still persist in taking for reality - for the only reality. And the driving force behind this inversion is fueled by the very thing that recognizes only those who accept their own abjection, namely work.
All work is prostitution. Selling the body in order to survive, be it wage labour; freelance or simply slavery, it's still just giving up the freedom of your body to others.
Property is nothing but the power to limit other peoples freedom, condensed to a quantifiable and exchangable size.
We are told that work sustains society, which again sustains us. But we are motivated to work, not by the will to sustain society, but by the need to sustaining oneself. THis is what I call survival sickness or the survival mode of existence, a paradoxical way of life, where the essence of being is laid waste as the will to live is superseded by the need to work. This need to work is not an actuall animal-like you will have to produce this and that in order to survive, but a constructed game of survival where the few who own everything distributes little by little the means of survival to the masses threading endlessly around the monopoly board.
The paradox of life lived in survival mode becomes clear at the end of the day, when you ask yourself: why? Why do I spend eight hours a day, five days a week doing what ever I just did? To get paid? yes, to get the shit that I needed to survive, yes. But my motivation to work was not to create any of that shit or contribute to its making in any way. Frankly I would have done what ever my boss told me to do, in order to get paid. How does sucking a cock but food on the table? Only when you live in a world were life is nothing and survival is everything.
Property, defined as a person's right to a thing defended with the force of a violence-monopoly (the state), is nothing more then the legitimate right to limit other people's freedom, i.e. power.
“Well that’s just life” I hear you say, and “that’s just how society work”. But whos life is it any way that you are living? and what society do we really want to live in?
I say that this is a world that is upside down. It has been upside down for as long as there has been a society and only you can turn it the right way up.
The hours devoted to production submits the natural drives to a state of restorative repose, confining them to time intervals or spaces not dominated by productivity: night, holidays, secret places, imagination and dreams. This has a fatal effect on consciousness, with two sets of prejudices contributing to the mortification: in the first, survival takes precedence over living; and in the second, the exercise of the intellect - through critical analysis of society, of political issues, of cultural decay, of the future of humanity - takes the place of existence, while the body is left to express its discontent through sickness and malaise.
What you restrain you always feel guilty about. How can a society based on the reification of life not find the simple fact of being human flawed? Guilt is to the economic organisation of life what an insoluble debt is to the balance of payments.
There is only one terror, from which all others derive. It is the fear of losing the last illusion separating us from ourselves, the panic of having to create our own lives.
Religion and Nation
The nation is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
Survival for the sake of survival is meaningless. As the old gods gave meaning to sacrifice in the agricultural mode of production, the nation sate and the more spiritualized forms of the old religions gives meaning to sacrifice in the industrial and post-industrial modes of production.
Todays religion has nothing to do with the religion of pre-industrial times. For that we have invented the nation-state. The rites and myths of the nation has in many parts of the world replaced the role that religion once played in peoples lives. It creates a sense of "good" and an ends to sacrifice. Different parts of the world have varying degrees of religion, nation and other ideologies to create their historic backdrop of sacrificial myth.
All gender- and sexual identities are culturally dependent. The way men and women are supposed to act and look and think towards themselves and eachother as men and women, has changed profoundly throughout the ages. This fact should in itself be sufficient to question the legitimacy and purpose of the gender ideals in our society, yet they prevail.
Men are the conqueror of women. They work and get paid. Muscle power, inteligence, wit and charm or simply richness are supopsed to attract the females of the herd. Woman on the other hand are he qunqured, the object for mens lust, the land where men plow and plant their seeds.
Taking a quick look at history reveals how work has shaped these ideals to serve its own purpose. When working outside in the field was most common the ideal girl was pale and plump, as the factory became the most common line of employment the ideal changed to skinny and tan. Food had become more plentyfull and beeing fried by the sun all day had become a priveledge for the rich. As unhealthy food has become increasingly cheaper and working tasks even more passive, the ideal body is a body that has acces to nutritional food and exercise.
In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
Suppose that you want a cup of coffee from the vending machine at work. First, there is the cup of coffee itself: that involves the workers on the coffee plantation, the ones on the sugar plantation and in the refineries, the ones in the paper mill, and so on. Then you have the workers who made the different parts of the vending machine and the ones who assembled it. Then the ones who extracted the iron ore and bauxite, smelted the steel, and work for the electric utility which supplies power to the machine. Then all the workers who transported the coffee, cups, and machine. Then the clerks, typists, and communication workers who coordinated the production and transportation. Finally, you have all the workers who produced all the other things necessary for the other ones to survive. That gives you a direct material relationship to several million people, in fact, to the immense majority of the world's population. They produce your life, and you help to produce theirs. In this light, all group identities and special group interests fade into insignificance. Imagine the potential enrichment of your life that at present is locked up in the frustrated creativity of these millions of people, held back by obsolete and exhausting methods of production, strangled by lack of control over their own productivity, warped by the insane rationale of capital-accumulation which pits one against all and makes life a mad scramble for economic survival. Here we begin to discover a real social identity--in people all over the world who are fighting to win control over their own lives we find ourselves.
Hippies - hippies everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad
The grandiose theories of human rights to which everyone defers these days; is nothing but pleasant-sounding ideologies that conceal and deny the realities of human conflict in the world of survival.
The new moralists love to tell those of us in the rich West how we will "have to make sacrifices," how we "exploit the starving children of the Third World." The choice we are given is between sacrificial altruism or narrow individualism. (Charities cash in on the resulting guilt.) Yes, by living in the rich, wasteful West we do exploit the poor of the Third World--but not personally, not deliberately. We can make some changes in our lives, boycott, make sacrifices, but the effects are marginal.
We become aware of the false conflict with which we've been presented when we realize that forced to survive we, as individuals, are locked into our roles as "exploiters" just as others are locked into their global roles as the exploited. We have a role, but little power to change it--at least individually. Therefore, we must reject the false choice of "sacrifice or selfishness" by calling for the destruction of mandatory survival whose existence forces that decision upon us. Tinkering with the system, or offering token sacrifices, or calling for "a little less selfishness," simply won't do. Charities and reformers never go beyond such false choices as "sacrifice" or "selfishness"--but if any true social progress is to be made, the rest of us must do so.
The Reversal of Perspective
The long dark night of trade is all the illumination our inhuman history has ever known. It will lift as life dawns.
The world has always had a geometry. The angle and perspective within which men could see, speak to, and represent each other was at first decided solely by the gods of the unitary epochs. Then men, the men of the fast changing econnomy of the industrial revolution, played a fast one on them: they placed them in perspective, arraying them in an historical becoming in which they were born, developed and killed off. History was the twilight of the gods.
God may be abolished, but the pillars which held him up still rise towards the empty sky. Economic mechanisms revealed the materiality of power, releasing it from the divine phantom. Today it is power which sidles up to men and solicits them to consume it. It weighs more and more heavily, reducing the space of life to mere survival, compressing time to the density of a "role". To use a facile image, one could compare power to an angle. Acute at first, its summit lost in the depths of the sky, then gradually growing wider as its summit sinks, becomes visible and subsides to the point of becoming flat, extending its sides in a straight line, which cannot be distinguished from a succession of points, equivalent and without strength. Beyond this line, which is that of nihilism, a new perspective opens, which is neither the reflection of the previous one nor its involution. On the contrary, it is a body of individual perspectives in harmony, never entering into conflict, but constructing the world according to the principles of coherence and collectivity. All these angles, all different, nevertheless open in the same direction, individual will henceforward being indistinguishable from collective will.
To reverse perspective is to stop seeing with the eyes of the community, ideology. family or other people. It is to grasp oneself firmly, to choose oneself as starting point and centre. To base everything on subjectivity and to follow one's subjective will to be everything. In the sights of my insatiable desire to live, the whole of power is only one particular target within a wider horizon. It's show of strength doesn't obstruct my vision, but I locate it, estimate its dangers, and study its movement. My creativity, however poor it may be, is a more certain guide than all the knowledge I have been forced to acquire. In the night of power, its glow holds the hostile forces at bay: cultural conditioning, every type of specialisation and Weltanschauungen are inevitably totalitarian. Everyone has the absolute weapon. However, it must be used with circumspection, like certain charms. If one approaches it from the standpoint of lies and oppression - back to front - then it is no more than bad clowning: an artistic consecration. The acts which destroy power are the same as the acts which construct free individual will but their range is different just as in strategy preparation for defense is obviously different from preparation for attack.
One of the great secrets of our miserable, yet potentially marvelous time, is that thinking can be a pleasure. Reversing perspective dissipates the corrosive haze of work and constraint in everyone. There is nobody who escapes the economic stranglehold through trickery, cheek or violence, who does not feel inclined to create himself, give birth to himself, and change his life from day to day. Creation lived daily as rebirth is simply the impulse to enjoy oneself gradually untying the straight-jacket of our repressed desires.
We haven't chosen the reversal of perspective through any kind of voluntarism. It has chosen us. Caught as we are in the historical phase of NOTHING, the next step can only be a change of EVERYTHING. Consciousness of total revolution, of its necessity, is our final way of being historical, our last chance, under certain conditions, of unmaking history. The game we are about to play is the game of our creativity. Its rules are radically opposed to the rules and laws controlling our society. It is a game of loser wins: what you are is more important than what is said, what is lived is more important than what is represented on the level of appearances. This game must be played right through to its conclusion. To cede an inch in one's will to live without reserve is to surrender all along the line. Those who give up their violence and their radical demands are doomed. Murdered truths become venomous, said Nietzsche. If we do not reverse perspective, then the perspective of power will succeed in turning us against ourselves once and for all. German Fascism was born in the blood of Spartacus. In each daily renunciation, reaction is preparing nothing less than the death of everyone.
Any opposition to the survival sicknes must begin with the reconquest of work. We are at the mercy of our employers any refusal of work will vanquish us, there is no escaping work. But our employers are also at our mercy. However striking for better pay or other rights, is to accept the employer/employed relationship and thus the entire survivalist structure. Instead it is the whole property/work relationship that must be turned on its head. We call it 'our jobb', but is it realy our job as long as the tools and products that surround it does not belong to us? We must change the meaning of the concept 'property', from the abstract "right to a thing" to the concrete "using a thing". Anything is yours as long as you are the one that are in some way using it, there can exist no right to a thing outside that.
When the place of work is moraly made our own, it no longer becomes a question of simply sacrificing your time in order to get paid, it becomes a question of enjoying the pleasures of work. That is the reversal of perspective, the moment of freedom, of revolution.
The point is to reverse the perspective so that survival becomes a consequence of the will to live rather than the condition for it. Because life in servitude of survival is meaningless.
Either the economy will succeed in submerging the living, or society will rely on the predominance of desires emancipated from their inversion in the market. Either we will all perish in the increasingly debilitating quest for profit and prestige, or the primacy of pleasure will destroy work through creativity, exchange through the gift, guilt through innocence and the will to power through the will to live.
We have a world of pleasures to win, and nothing to lose but boredom.