To The Communards of March 4th
From The Brilliant
Thanks to you the world has opened up, again—tired folks were reminded that energy is generative, not finite, and the size of your ambitions has been shown to exceed the University. There is a beginning of a twisting road, without a foreseeable end, with beautiful vistas and shadowy cul-de-sacs.
In the past the brilliant attacked capitalism at its strongest, pointing out that even the upper and middle classes – the people who were supposed to benefit from the system – even those people led lives of misery and impoverishment. The school occupations are the latest chapter of that story. And the communiques, full of toothy poetry, point out that debt is the only consistent product of a university education, that the university – the gleaming icon of personal betterment and fulfillment – is no longer good for either the “creation of a cultured and educated citizenry,” nor for the economic benefits that used to go with a degree. That the university becomes just one more way of categorizing people, defining one more type of inmate, a different control group for the experiments that are constant, ubiquitous.
The communiques (fed by the fresh blood of people newly come to the brutality of police, the burst illusions of a prosperous future, the shocked exhaustion from retail and data entry jobs) reject mediation, representation, reconciliation, and the idea that any demands could encapsulate the students’ desires; only stopping — stopping traffic, stopping flows, stopping business, stopping normalcy — can address the issues at work here, the communiques .
‘We are the crisis’ inscribes the ‘we’ as both symptom and prescription, without attempting to evade their entanglement.
There. Nothing else needs to be said. This is brilliant!
There is an expiration date to this moment, March 4th. The next moment could be many things but a tension will have been relieved. The piece will have been played. We hope that the following thoughts on the board, the pieces, and how to expire this moment as elegantly as possible are a contribution. We start by sketching out some goals and then move on to specific recommendations for the next week (and beyond). The only hope we offer is to continually reinscribe tension into successive moments.
Lead an interesting life
It is better to go down fighting than bow your head and follow the path of misery. If happiness or satisfaction is the goal, then it is a simple matter to trim your hopes and desires to fit the possible. But an interesting life is neither one-size-fits-all nor predictable. It may momentarily fit expectations (as, for example, of friends and family), but only long enough to lull onlookers in to a false sense of security. It may, on occasion, look like obeying orders but only for new perspective, or to restart conflict from a different position.
Suffer habits firmly
Twenty years ago, and in a few moments since, dressing in a uniform manner and militantly engaging with spectacular protest was interesting. This tactic has long since become circumscribed, as have lock-downs, “masses”, “mobs”, and (symbolic) occupations. We believe that the only experiment worth undertaking is transformation of the world. Our work has been tentative, conservative, up til now as we feared taking ourselves seriously enough to state our goals clearly. As makers of the future we must abandon our preconceptions (and leaders) and experiment wildly!
You are worth more than compromise. When you split the difference between what you desire and that which constrains you it always looks more like constraint than desire. It is better to act with your heart, engage with the others who share your wandering, and defeat the politicians (of every stripe) who would have you settle (for more or less).
Goals established we will now share specific tactical ideas about the Commune of March.
Terms of Engagement
In an era in which every event is recorded, every face a future defendant, every textual-conceit an hour of court time, their strategy of containment is very simple. They will circumscribe your events with electronic eyes and ears. They will keep a permanent record of your behavior as an implied threat against your future and present unfettered action.
You should have a strategy of counter-surveillance that includes the technical ability to remove recording devices and MOST IMPORTANTLY a set of process to limit illegal activity (discussion and act) from records. History can tell you what are the levels of pain that will be inflicted by administrations and riot cops. Plan for this and prepare.
Electronic surveillance is done best by the participants. If you are going to have one clear rule it should be about the self-recording of events. Either totally decenter your own surveillance (which may be your only option any way) OR keep really clear processes about what is appropriate to record and what is better left to experience and story telling.
This will be on your permanent record
It may be naive to believe that the Commune will be successful enough to consider such matters but if it is we cannot resist the temptation to state a specific way in which you can destroy what destroys you. Destroy any official paperwork, material, and resource that you get your hands on. If the seizure of towns by resistance fighters of the past can be of any use in our post-modern exo-burb present it is that tax, birth, and social records have always been destroyed when the town hall is seized. Remember the brilliance of Letino and Gallo.
Today this means bringing to the party magnets, paper shredders, and tools to remove copper.
A kid who tells on another kid
This may be a challenging discussion to have as it predicates failure but it is worth repeating an axiom that should be obvious. If you do not tell on each other neither of you will lose. If one of you does you both do. Learn about the Prisoners Dilemma and discuss (within the Commune itself) how to act beyond its logic. This is not a black and white problem but one about successful action.
Allies and adversaries
It is easy to be distracted or enamored by the people who are drawn to the tension of the environment of the Commune. These people may not share your goals or desires. The more popular or energetic the Commune is, the wider the array of reasons people will have to hang out, get involved, and talk it up. Here are some types you will find to look out for…
The becoming-middle class: notoriously folks who will write books, dissertations, newspaper articles and/or songs about their experiences in the front lines. The people who will attempt to capitalize off of the events as a (perhaps outré) way in to prosperity and/or respectability.
The becoming-apparatchik: neo-politicians, people who have or want jobs in NGOs, who make it their business to be (or seem to be) experts in change, people who will use their interpretation of this experience to build a reputation and/or a career in decision-making.
The becoming-bravado: the fuck shit up kids, the ones who believe that the Black Bloc is the answer to all of life’s questions, the ones who are holier than thou about everything, from being straight edge to being not straight-edge, from being a good feminist ally to not being a good feminist ally. Every question is moral, and moral always means black and white.
This becoming-taxonomy must be fleshed out in the field and can help us all evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our participation in the events. We look forward to future additions.
The End of the Cycle
The end of the Commune is not coming because our energy is infinite. At some point soon there may be broken hearts, dreams and if authority has anything to say about it, spirits. It is not appropriate to intend on this end but it is better to speak to how we increase tension prior to a release, rather than later. It might be a good time to understand just how much the terms of engagement should change.
Know that you will do time. You may not, but if you know you will, you will be prepared. The system is notorious for moving slowly, and at times randomly. You cannot know when it will happen, but if you know that it will happen, you can make decisions based on this. You can make sure you always have someone to take care of your child(ren)/dogs/plants. You will be prepared for the interrogation. You will not be caught flat-footed with shock because the allegation is for something that happened 5, 10, 15 years ago. It will not matter that you are no longer friends with the people you did stuff with. And you will treat other people who are imprisoned with love and concern, because they will be you. You will be ready.
Authority does not heal. It destroys, conquers, and purchases. We have different needs (one of the ways you can tell the brilliant apart from authority) and should give each other space to heal differently. This can look lonely, shallow, or like a retreat. Be kind to each other while you heal so that we don’t become destroyed, conquered or bought.
There is no going back
The break from the present reality is already happening. The center cannot hold. This can be seen in more than just high unemployment rates or the lack of future employment for humanities majors. It can be seen in the thinness of all contracts from above and the poverty of those below. What is great about the Commune of March is that it is this break made real. This is not a promise of a generalized Commune but a brilliant whisper to the future.
We are coming. Get ready!
This entry was posted on March 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm and is filed under Direct Action & Civil Disobedience, Police State, Revolution with tags campuses, colleges, education, insurrection, March 4th, schools, social war, students, the commune, universities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.