The way to do it is to be it
“If you don’t change direction, you could end up where you started from“Lao Tze
The capitalist control over social production requires proletarians to submit voluntarily to the conditions which make their exploitation inexorable. The objective of every capitalist is to preserve themselves as capitalists in a hostile dynamic of competition between businesses, which demands that their profit rate be sufficiently beneficial to continue investing. This obligatory dynamism cannot be realized if not for the conditions of the free market, conditions which can only exist when there is formal equality between those who sell their labor power and those who buy it. Without this tacit consent for the real inequality that resides at the base of the relationship of exploitation, capitalism could not exist.
That is why open repression on part of the bourgeoisie is more likely the exception than the rule. The recourse to brute force constitutes a measure of its weakness more than its strength. Whenever the bourgeoisie unleashes its coercive violence in order to keep the labor force disciplined, it does so knowing that it is infringing upon the basis of the social relationship of exploitation. When it unleashes the repressive fury of its armed forces, it does so while trembling from head to foot. When it proposes laws for binding the mouth and hands of an insurgent class, it does so with the uneasiness of one who amputates a body part in order to avoid the propagation of a gangrene, suspecting that the impoverished might have reached a point of no return.
It could be that the roman patricians had been stronger when they sent their legions to crush the slave rebellions, and it could be that the alliance between the nobility and the clergy had expressed its force in the bloodbath that was unleashed against the anabaptist peasants. But that correlation between the exercising of armed force and social power doesn’t apply to the bourgeoisie. Not because the bourgeoisie are less brutal and relentless than the exploiting classes that preceded them, but because their power has a very different basis. The power of the dominant classes of the past rested in a large part on the fixed and immutable basis of its territorial and sanguinary links, while the power of the bourgeoisie depends almost exclusively on the valorization of value, a blind dynamism in continuous acceleration which tends increasingly towards a growing fluidity and rootlessness. The power of the capitalists is the power to generate entropy by the means of valorization, entropy that in the same time does no more than progressively dissolve the social basis of its power.
This dynamic has the consequence, on the other hand, that the class which capital exploits differs in a crucial aspect from the exploited classes of the past. In the case of the proletariat, its position doesn’t depend on immovable atavisms, but from the dynamic-entropic process of valorization, a process which incessantly disperses any objective basis of a possible economic and political power for the proletariat. But at the same time that capitalist production denies the proletariat the possibility to seat its power in factors which are external to it, it obliges it to become a productive force of the highest order, the increased reproduction of its own social activity being the sine qua non of its physical existence. The proletarian who does not continually increase their subjective potential in relation with others tends towards social nonexistence, in the same way that subjective life tends towards zero in the absence of social activity. The production of the Gemeinwesen, of the human community as a material and spiritual reality, is not a free choice for the proletarians in the sense that choosing an occupation or a pastime among others could be. It is, rather, the very condition of their existence and what their own activity does with them throughout their existence. As soon as a mass of proletarians find themselves capable of spontaneously organizing an insurrection, within it employing psycho-affective, cultural, technical and material resources which only yesterday nobody thought they could apply to it. The sublime revelation consists in this: in that mass which even yesterday appeared to be pure automatism and passivity, there resides a potentially unstoppable force. That said: this force, which can cause a country and the whole world to convulse, showing itself as a real power, doesn’t depend on any exterior form, on any material or institutional implementation previously disposed towards outbreak; it comes exclusively from an interiority, from a totally immaterial force, from the social and subjective being of the proletariat. Its power emanates from its sociability, from its very existence, and not from any fixture or institution. It’s nothing more than what is expressed by the cry “We’re thugs, we fight without water cannons”
It’s the initiative, the creativity and ingenuity, it’s the expressiveness and communicative force, the empathy, which the social power of the proletarians is based upon, and they know it. Those who still don’t know it well enough fear that all of that could succumb in the face of the repressive adventures of the bourgeoisie. But the only thing that remains endangered in this case are the exterior forms in which the power of the proletariat is manifested: certain practical modalities of its struggle, certain techniques, certain habits linked to an excessive fixation with what ties it to the reactions of its enemies. Those who do indeed know that for the proletariat power is only a collateral effect of the exercising of the power of its being, know that freedom is never an objective to achieve. Freedom is, above all, the freedom to be self-determined in the very course of the action, life, and the struggle. The repressive displays of the enemy are exactly the polar opposite of our power: the only thing that they show us is that we’re obligated to love freedom and that if we don’t obey this mandate we’re lost.
Human beings often ignore our own power and for different reasons we tend to persevere in this blindness. This sometimes makes us capitulate, one step away from victory, believing that we have to measure ourselves with the same stick as the enemy and in such a way viewing ourselves as more weak than we are. But everyone who has fought a battle knows that at a determined moment it’s inevitable to measure ourselves by our own standards independently from those who, being less than us, purport to be more. On the other hand, being already installed in the experience of a telluric awakening, the liberties which we have taken are so numerous that it would be, to say the least, strange if we don’t now take the liberty of reinventing ourselves, our selves and our struggle, precisely at the moment in which the bourgeoisie purports to have immobilized us, hamstringing us with a bunch of laws. It’s necessary to contemplate this carefully: they hope for us to react blindly to their reaction. For us to abstain from continuing to struggle, or for us to desperately hurl ourselves against the fence that they have placed in front of us, going in mass to the slaughterhouse or dealing out isolated blows which, without stopping the mega-machine, give impetus to its repressive violence. Any of these reactions would keep us prisoner of precisely the set of reactions to which the enemy wants to reduce us. But we’re not determined by the exterior form of our actions, nor by our habits, nor by the reactions which we have evoked from the enemy, nor by those which we ourselves have had: we are determined by our internal relations as a humanity in contradiction with itself. Contradiction is the field of freedom, and this means that we’re not fighting to be free, but we’re fighting because we are free. To not use this freedom in order to wage the struggle under our own terms is the only defeat possible. To continue doing the same in the hopes of obtaining different results would be to perpetuate the contradiction without overcoming it.
Our class siblings who have been murdered, mutilated, tortured and taken prisoner, have not had this done to them by the State because of what their actions are in themselves, but because of what they represent. The barricades have not been prohibited with jail sentences because they have paralyzed the national economy, but because they are the most visible sign of a force that could manage to paralyze it if it so proposes, and which wouldn’t exactly do so with barricades. They didn’t press charges on Rodrigo Campos in order to compensate the breaking of a turnstile, but in order to make the crack of the whip audible as a symbol. They haven’t shot out eyes just for the hell of it. We know all of this. What’s not so clear is if we have come to the correct and necessary conclusions. EVADE: perhaps we haven’t lent enough attention to the fact that this slogan has been at the center of the explosion. To evade is to negate the fundamental metaphysic of this society and the mechanism which gives it life: “life must be paid for”. Everything that came after has been no more than that contestation augmented. The demand for higher salaries and lower fees, for a welfare system that isn’t a fraud, for better social services, responds to the desire to “pay less to live”. But this desire is not just that: it expresses, still embryonically, the revelation that “it’s not necessary to pay to live”. This revelation has already manifested, it only needs to be expressed as a necessity in order to become a practical imperative capable of changing the rules of the game. The evasions in public transport could continue and generalize without anybody transgressing any of the repressive laws in vigor. They could extend -just like the “self-reductions” in the Italy of the seventies- to the services of drinking water, electricity, gas and connectivity. They could become an unstoppable wave of petty theft in massive swarms, everywhere without pause. It could divert into a movement of social and economic disobedience executed by millions of people in a thousand different ways, transgressing many norms, but not a single law. It could happen that the habitual relations of commerce come to find themselves so disturbed that there’s no other way to provide food and provisions to the population than through a rationing policy. But a barracks capitalism is a practical impossibility.
In such conditions, the necessity of direct appropriation of consumer goods could not reach very far by adopting the accustomed form of looting. But eventually it could bring the truck drivers to join the massive disobedience and deliver these goods to the assemblies instead of to the supermarkets. That same tendency could end up imposing upon those who produce the goods the necessity of releasing them without the need for commerce. The interruption of the cycle of valorization which that would suppose would make acquisition by means of salary inviable, paving the way for direct distribution. It would be a feedback loop tending towards the progressive communization of everything. In the course of this, the State would be obligated to prohibit practically everything, with the exception of acts of buying and selling, like so eroding the formal liberty which is its very foundation.
It’s not fitting to imagine such a process without a proliferation of violent incidents taking place, which in any case would be the kinetic unfolding of the enormous potential violence already contained in the capitalist social form itself. It’s not so much a matter of avoiding state violence, which is inevitable, but of how to affront it from the advantaged position that we are provided by our massiveness and above all the social force that dwells in us. Everything depends on how capable the proletariat is in determining the dynamic of the struggle itself, being it which sets the rules of the game. When there is an attempt to impose direct confrontation on it in conditions where it can end up fatally wounded, this must be avoided by bringing the disobedience onto a different plane. When it is attempted to drag it into a dead-end street it must know how to create an unforeseen route; it must animate itself to stop that which was supposed to be unstoppable, to mobilize that which was supposed to be flawlessly immobile, to put a hole in that which precipitates every blow directed against it. It must surprise the enemy, depriving it of every surface upon which it had hoped to lean, in order to continue hitting it, imposing a progressive wear on it. Tire it out, drain its forces, until it becomes more costly for it to continue fighting than to give up the fight. All the arms and material resources are nothing without the spirit needed to put them into action.
It is of key importance that the struggle be not in pursuit of economic and political objectives, but that its unfolding be the practical demonstration that living without paying is a form of life superior to the current one, and doing so with such an eloquence that the amount of people who want to continue living as poorly as they did becomes increasingly less. This implies that the proletariat leave behind everything that it was used to, unbind itself from the form of life that constitutes it as proletariat. Well then, if anything has become clear in in these weeks it’s that this not only is possible, but it has even become inevitable to a certain degree and is, if one thinks over it well, the best that can happen to us. To assume this would imply, for starters, that we stop asking for respect from those who have shown themselves to not be respectable at all; and that we carry our recently recovered dignity to its final consequence: total self-determination.
Anonymous, December 2019
taqken from here