The following piece was published on Lundi Matin (Which is believed to be close with the Invisible Committee) on May 20. “All political thought, Marxist, revolutionary, anarchist, etc., is locked in the liberal economic prison. It has never left the 18th century of “Scottish materialism”.”
The uprising of the Yellow Vests can be interpreted as a resurgence of the oldest revolt movements – an emotion or a peasant revolt, a symptomatic resurgence of the state of enlightened despotism (for the economy) regained, a characteristic resurgence of the former regime ending configuratized as liberal technocracy (Physiocrats, Thermidorians or Versailles) and brought following counter-revolutionary movements to life.
Or, rather, this uprising can also be interpreted as the first insurrection of a new revolutionary era, the era of the revolution of the revolution – symptomatic of a new political era that emerges by dissolving or destituting liberal hegemony.
Originally published by Lundi Matin. Written by Jacques Fradin. Translated by Enough 14.
Jacques Fradin, an anti-economist and mathematician at war with evaluation, has been carrying out a detailed genealogical study of capitalism for the past 40 years.
Read all our Gilets Jaunes articles: https://enoughisenough14.org/tag/yellow-jackets/
The insurrection of the Yellow Vests testifies to the wavering of a political era – that of liberal hegemony – and the emergence of a new era – that of democracy, expected since the invention of politics. Thus, the insurrection of the Yellow Vests is the sign towards what OPENS and allows to EXIT from the liberal prison. It is therefore part of a real revolution in political thought, the revolution of revolution.
Indeed, by breaking the liberal hegemony and its founding myth of “society against the State”, the Yellow Vests uprising dissolves, by the same token, the “liberal anarchist” myth of the self-constituted society, placed at a distance from the State. It dissolves, “at the same time”, the great revolutionary myth (sung in the nineteenth century), the one that places revolution in the liberal atmosphere of “society against the state” or of the self-constituted society (the wonderful myth of self-organized productive cooperation).
Revolution of the revolution: it is the opening of a new revolutionary era at odds with the old revolutionary configuration (once again that of the 19th century, anarcho-liberal). Ancient configuration (that of the “decline of the State”) which was under the influence of the liberal (economist) mythology of the self-constituted society, the famous “civil society”, with all its imaginable variants, such as the community of associated producers, or the democratic cooperative, etc.
The GJ’s: A power of radical political innovation
What are the elements of the Yellow Vests (uprising) movement that allow the latter to be interpreted as the first insurrection of a new revolutionary era deployed around a new revolutionary scheme, that of democracy? It is the lack of unity and unification: plural singularity. It is the permanent movement: the local, without localism, being conceived only as a mobile rear base for combat. It is the pre-eminence of the fight; of the fight that is constantly to be resumed: a permanent struggle, with no foreseeable end, centred on permanent disengagement, radical DEGAGISM (get lost-ism, original french: dégagisme. This word as first used during the Tunesian uprising in 2011, as people wanted to get rid of ruler Ben Ali. Enough 14). It is the absence of an established program and, thus, the primary requirement for dissolution (disbanding, resignation, dismissal).
The Yellow Vests movement with its power of radical political innovation, Potential Policy Opening, CAN be the end of the “millennium tradition” of repression, breaking this curse of the return to order, INVENTING the new pillars of radical democracy, of “true democracy”. Yellow Vests are a power of INNOVATION, “true innovation” that is political, democratic and can never be technical, industrial or commercial.
Without the Yellow Vests movement, without the Potential Policy Work, there can be no democracy, no “true democracy”. Because what is fallaciously called “democracy” (or, again, “the republic”), all the representative or parliamentary bodies controlled by an economic government, this so-called “democracy”, technocratically restricted by management, is nothing more than a false slogan making it possible to conceal the icy arcane power over permanent repression. “Democracy”, in the mouths of the management bodies, is nothing more than a typically Stalinist propaganda slogan (a disconcerting lie), a slogan that only the innovative power of the Yellow Vests can volatilize.
It is the permanent movement of insurgency “from below” that defines radical democracy. It is in this respect that the Yellow Vest movement must be seen as a power of radical political innovation: a Potential Policy Work (Ouvroir de Politique Potentielle ).
The singular plural, horizontal, in reality, singular movement of insurrection, constantly restarting, ends when it is defined (defined) by “aggregation”, gregarization, confinement in the enclosure of the friendly (or police) herd. Then, the horizontal movement is combined, at best, with a vertical movement of capture; like electoral capture; the horizontal turns, at worst, into a disciplined organization or an order made to last (the organization made to last always taking its model from religious orders and their military structure).
On the other side, the Yellow Vests power, “the war machine” Yellow Vests, is a power to break the curse of realization or fixation (fossilization) in a sustainable organization (or institution); it is a power to promote and push forward the removal of any institution that believes itself that its unshakable (this is what is hidden behind the aspiration of the RIC: the veto tribunal, which should be associated with the full recognition of abstention as a popular veto – quorum requirement and threat of the cancellation of parlamentary procedures). The Yellow Vests war machine can be the subject, nihilistic, of regular and repeated deactivation of sovereignty (and the will of will).
Hey! Yellow Vests! Don’t try to become a constituent power! Or, worse, a force of proposal (which is well despised)! Maintain your focus on being a destructive power or a “spotlight power”. But this work, “the workroom” (this opening to the outside of the instituted world), is a heavy task, the most difficult task of opening up to “democracy” through the constant struggle to start from the scratch. The vertical movement ordered, organized and in battle order must contain its own mode of removal; where the horizontal movement breaks
the vertical movement from the inside.
And without this internal removal ever ending.
Break the dynamics of order
How did the Latin American “left-wing forces” (in Venezuela in particular) fail? Although driven by “bottom-up” revolts, spontaneous horizontal, self-deployed, communist insurrections, etc.., the “left forces”, thus led to power, immediately sclerosed themselves, imposing a vertical order, state (or police) control, reproducing the old hierarchies, AND RESTRICTED the powers that carried them, separated from them, turned against them, demanded the ORDER, respect for order and did everything to disarm (culturally and organisationally) the powers that are the spring of the “left forces”. These instituted forces have in no way “trusted” the power from below that pushed them. These (“left-wing”) forces have remained trapped in the ancient world of repression (and love of order). Instead of INVENTING a new political form, let us call it, here, “tribune communism”, instead of INNOVATING radically under the communist impulse (of the Ouvroir) the “left” forces have locked themselves into the oldest “tradition” of repressive power. The NOSKE EBERT moment repeating itself over and over again, in a game of broken mirrors.
The Yellow Vest movement, with its power of radical political innovation, CAN and MUST be the end of the “millennium tradition” of despotism, BREAKING the curse of frozen institutions, INVENTING the self-destructive institution, the pillar of radical democracy. By allowing the powers from below to regularly dismiss institutions (always the RIC and abstention). Because what matters is that the dynamics of the revolt never cease. Beyond the abolition of private property and the expropriation of expropriators, it is necessary to achieve the abolition of private appropriation of institutions, private appropriation called “representation” (or management by a syndic), technocratic government (management by an oligarchy), private appropriation which is the effect of the consistency (and fossilisation) of the institutions.
ABOLITION of the PRIVATE APPROPRIATION of INSTITUTIONS.
Abolition of (power) delegations by means of the permanent questioning of uncontrolled commands (or with census and eclipse control.)
Removal of all technocratic and managerial forms.
Rejection of the confusion between “politics” (in fact: police) and management.
DISSOLUTION of the MANAGEMENT.
FIRE on the COMPANY (and entrepreneurs).
Rejection of policy management by (empowered) “representatives” transformed into trustees of the co-owned of institutions.
Rejection of the horrible principle: who pays for orders which allows “representatives” (with their blank checks, or with signature authorization, armoured by the “delegation of power”) to gag those who assume they have elected them.
END OF ALL DELEGATIONS.
One of the original topics of the Yellow Vests movement is the RIC’s “claim”. Why does the RIC make such a big fuss about authoritarian conservatives?
Because it is the symbol of a NO policy. It involves the popular veto and the paralysis of any constructive effectiveness. It is a first stone on the grave of efficiency. The RIC should be seen as an introduction to autoimmunity, depropriation, and disidentification.
Yellow Vests against the “society against the state”
The Yellow Vests insurrection requires both a review by Pierre Clastres (La Société contre l’État – The Society against the State) and a thorough critique by James Scott (Homo Domesticus, a recent book to be read in the light of an older work Seeing like a State). A re-reading that questions the liberal anarchism that plagues the “art of resistance” by depriving it of a strong libertarian dose of belief in harmonious self-organization (which is an economist theme).
What does the Yellow Vests insurrection reveal ( which we introduced just before)?
That any realized or effective (“effective” since realized) society – whether or not it is called community, commonwealth – that any realized society is a symbolic social system. However, radical degagism declares: “system get lost!”.
To create society, community, system, we need symbolism, myth, religion, discourse, a legendary history, such as that of emancipation. Any affirmative-constitution requires a mythology and is based on the harshest necessity, the need to believe.
This necessity cannot be “deactivated”, but can be moved, constantly moved. Move the liberal mythology of self-constitution; Move the (former) revolutionary anarchist liberal mythology of self-organization. There will be mythology. Mythology is constitutive. But mythology can be constantly criticized; Man is a religious animal that needs to believe; He does not think by axioms and “rationally”, he thinks by beliefs and “affection”; Any society thus requires a symbolic center (and a leader!); But this center must always be dethroned (“deactivated”) – the constant and permanent degagism.
This is the topic (corrected by the Yellow Vests movement) of “Society against the State”.
Any symbolic social organization (society, community, sect, etc.) will generate a symbolic centre, with a mythology, priests and a high priest – this is inevitable – but any belief must be, without respite, criticized, deconstructed, destroyed, any centre, theocratic or state, necessarily religious, must be ” ousted ” and this permanently, since this centre, whose flag bears a phoenix, is constantly being born again.
Clastres theorizes that permanent degagism is what it is – as soon as it is taken out of the prison of self-organization and transported to the yellow battlefield.
The symbolic center will always reappear. The “active” vigilance (in Clastres way) must be permanent. Democracy is an endless struggle. There is no point in appealing to myth, to a new myth (such as that of anarchist emancipation) to fight the myth. Rather, mythology must be launched into an exhausting round. Not a “new usage” or a “game”, but the wear and tear of all usage.
What is the theoretical core of Pierre Clastres’ “yellow” rereading? What is the heart of the Yellow Vests insurrection? There is no opposition between a “self-organized society” in social autonomy and a theocratic “hetero-organized society” or with a dominant state, with a symbolic centre. Quite simply because a so-called self-organized society is still a symbolic social system with a symbolic centre. Any “auto” or “hetero” organization is “hetero-auto”.
Definition of the social symbolic of the “society of the talkers”: the society is a religious text.
The so-called self-organized “civil society”, economic or capitalist, forms an autonomous system; but it is the system that is autonomous, automatic, just as it is the machine market that is free – autonomy, freedom, emancipation, designates an automatic and mechanical functioning. From this self-organized civil society a symbolic social order will emerge, a religious system of beliefs, an emerging symbolic social order that can coagulate into a despotic state – and moreover, regardless of the state and its despotism, the symbolic machine is launched anyway.
It is therefore necessary to reread Pierre Clastres in the following way:
Not the society – self-organized anarchy – against the State of concentrated domination;
But the permanent FIGHTING movement against society, called self-organized, free or emancipated, with diffuse domination, because this society, NECESSARILY, constitutes a symbolic, religious, theocratic, despotic social order, etc., an order that can be, but not always and not necessarily, crowned by a State – the state-less society being as suffocating as the worst theocratic tyranny.
There may be “stateless societies”, but there is never a “stateless society” without a mythological-religious order and a theocratic centre. And it is not the “modern” societies of the industrialist religion, with their “incorporated” centre (the legendary company), that can claim the exception!
When the “negative” movement of struggle wants to continue in “affirmative construction”, when a proto-society based on a religious mirage, on a mythology, such as that of harmonious self-organization or integral cooperative, emerges, liberal economic mythology, proto-society which also imagines or invents a destiny of emancipation, a manifest fate, then the democratic movement (which exists only through struggle) has returned to affirmative religious power, from sect to state, the struggle against despotism ending in reinforcement (“innovative”) of despotism.
Depotism is combat
All political thought, Marxist, revolutionary, anarchist, etc., is locked in the liberal economic prison. It has never left the 18th century of “Scottish materialism”. Reading Quesnay against Hume again, that’s what can sober up the libertarian mirage.
It is the self-organized social order, necessarily religious symbolic social order, which is the foundation of despotism; not a fantasized state, the state being only a possible “derivation” of the symbolic order, a “derivation” of theocracy, on the model of the Christianized Roman Empire. Any symbolic social order is despotic and generates despotism, theocratic or otherwise.
Evil is not the State, which is a subordinate evil, the Great Evil is the self-generated (and therefore economic) symbolic social order. Self–constitution being a very long-lasting historical (war) process, without a master subject, whose history can only be told after the events (there is no more techno-science of history than there is a techno-science of evolution), a process that projects the “leader”. The Great Evil is magic, mythology, religion, belief; but this Evil is inevitable. This Great Evil is an inescapable NECESSITY. Which refers to a fundamental structure of reality, an EXISTENTIAL STRUCTURE.
Every realized society is a sprawling symbolic social system that already appeared in the complexity of so-called “archaic” mythologies, “primitive” societies that are symbolically as “developed” as so-called “modern” societies. The believing man, that is, the man at all, positive, affirmative, enthusiastic, enterprising entrepreneur, muscular militant, etc., is a despotic animal – whose first fight is against himself, whose first fight is self-deprivation (“neglect” and disidentification).
Contrary to what reactionary social Darwinism or ethology may think, despotism is certainly a destiny, undoubtedly a fatality, but it is certainly not a (human) nature.
Despotism is to be fought; even if it is inevitable; this is the lesson of Clastres. Which is generalized as follows: ethics (of struggle) is transversal to ontology (of despotism). Despotism is fought and requires fighting. Even if the struggle is endless, pointless, without a program; even if it is ineffective. It is this inefficiency (inoperability, in Agamben’s vocabulary) that makes the struggle so positive: because it draws the opening to get out of the economic world of efficiency (the exit does not consist in producing, hoping, a new world more efficient or an alter world more fair). Justice is in the struggle, difficult, against efficiency, particularly against the efficiency of the struggle). The insurrection of the Yellow Vests is the sign towards what OPENS and allows to get out of the liberal prison or the industrialist economic mythology. I don’t want anything, I’ll be everything.
Get out of the efficiency trap
The belief that revolutionary politics (democratic ethics) must be underpinned by evangelical messianism, that “action” must be supported by the perspective (ah! ! the perspectives!) of a wonderful construction or constitution, with the image (Christological) of a wonderful, desirable, achievable (effective) goal, this is the worst disaster; it is the same, the imagination of the achievable goal, which breaks the power of openness (which is sustained by nothing).
This “worst of disasters” immobilizes us in the liberal liberatarian anarchist economic trap or holds us prisoner in the rotating cage of “development” towards “the good economy” or towards “the good emancipated society”. It is from this industrialized industrialist trap of efficiency that we must escape; by constantly blocking its jaws, never once and for all. Since primitive accumulation is a colonization that is constantly repeating itself, the anti-colonial (or anti-economic) struggle cannot be allowed to end. It is the dynamic setting (in struggle) that breaks the statistic (of the state). And of course, the order shouted by the Versailles technocrats will always be: in the niche, now it’s over (the end being a key metaphysical term of despotic dogmatics – with efficiency. Macron said: democracy is efficiency).
Let us go back a little bit, then, to the 19th century, to the time of the triumphant messianic revolution. And to Marx, the messianic, who had in no way thought or foreseen the fascist counterrevolution (which was born with Louis Napoleon Badinguet), a counterrevolution that operates by ” hijacking ” the parousia. In the revolutionary liberal economic thought (the field of thought in which Marxism is embedded) the struggle is propelled by a movement (teleological) that leads to a state of final harmony (this applies to both liberal capitalist mythology and anarchist Marxist counter-mythology). It is always stated that the struggle must be supported by an evangelical hope or proclamation.
The critical negative aspect of the struggle is always combined with an affirmative positive aspect, with a wonderful futurology (this combination is called dialectic). The collective subject of the struggle is carried, raised, by this hope or by the evangelical announcement. And, of course (as explained in detail in “Italian thought”, Agamben or Esposito) this messianic schema, of theological (political-theological) origin, imprisons struggle and militancy and militants ( evangelicals) in a theological space, hardly reconfigured in political terms. However, the whole purpose of critical thinking since Heidegger, of “Italian thought” in particular, is to escape (to get out) of this theocratic scheme.
The exit that is being realized by the Yellow Vests movement.
Because the easiest way to “deactivate” the theological, entrepreneurial or positivist scheme is to CUT it in TWO. First of all, the struggle (operatic theme) without end, without purpose (no program, no objective, if not ALL) – the negativity of the negative. Then, but in a loose (or non-dialectical) way, the mythological affirmation, the Great Legendary, the “techno-political” project of a feasible construction (but this project comes AFTER to “enchant” the struggle that always comes BEFORE – the struggle is not a messianic operator).
The struggle cannot be determined, driven, by a final cause or a final paradise, otherwise the worst theology (the discourse of despotism) will be reactivated. Let us start from the encyclopedia of struggles, riots (or emotions), let us start from the war that is raging (and the new war that is coming); struggles constitute a whole without structure, singular plural. And let us postulate, as a structuring, that these struggles are teleologically determined, driven by a final cause, by a vision of a future of emancipation (however freedom is defined), then these struggles, incorporated into a metaphysical, theological, messianic scheme, these struggles are analysed economically. The primordial question being then that of the realization, the realization or the effectiveness… The messianic militant becomes an engineer; the spirit of the company conquering the digester ( this is why the former “repentant” militants or apostats become good entrepreneurs, sometimes the most terrible).
How then can we rethink messianism so that it is no longer an announcement or a gospel, and so that struggles, first wrapped up by the announcement, emerge from the Aristotelian or Thomistic theological scheme? So that the struggles are no longer thought of in a positivist way?
For a non-religious politcal practice
How to define activism that escapes economic control: vision, project, strategy, programme and, even, definition of the final objective in the same way as economists: harmonious self-organisation of producers? How to celebrate the radical innovation of the Yellow Vests movement? How can we escape the efficiency and technocratic fascist definition (and the Macron) of democracy as efficiency? How can we escape from saint-simonism, from the religion of engineers, which has contaminated anarchism (particularly Proudhon’s) as well as Marxism (cooperative workers reclaiming the capitalist development movement for their benefit)?
Let us return, as always, to this despotic (physiocratic) liberal end of the 18th century. And let’s look at William Godwin (Benjamin Franklin’s opposite alter) – 1793, De la Justice politique. William Godwin can be considered as the immediate ancestor of Saint-Simon, a prophet of industrialism (whom Benjamin Franklin glorifies as well). William Godwin inaugurates the anarchist economic research of the self-organized producers’ society, a purely productive, industrial (cooperative) society, without state or government, both of which are declared “useless”, the society of industrial self-organization or the government of the industrious by themselves. And Proudhon (still him!) is the keystone of this self-organized liberal industrialism:
What we put in the government’s place is the industrial organization;
What we put in place of laws are contracts;
What we put in the place of political powers are economic forces;
What we are putting in the place of standing armies are industrial companies, etc.
So: anarchism or liberalism?
And, in the case of Proudhon, anarchism or neoliberal fascism?
Will the Yellow Vests help us to break out of the efficiency paradigm? How to think of “ineffective” action? To leave industry, the power to produce, the power to achieve, the constructive power, to leave the grip of the Engineering Corps… The “practical” or praxological idea, in terms of social engineering practice, the dominant idea that militant action must be affirmative, productive, constituent, constructive, this idea immediately makes one fall into the positivism of engineering school – polytechnic. How to disable positivism? How to deconstruct emancipation policies presented in terms of engineers of finalized actions? How to separate the activist from the engineer? And, finally, how to separate the militant from the military?
How can we ensure that the “way of life” of the permanently mobilized activist does not imitate that of the capitalist entrepreneur or creative engineer? How can we get around the theme of the effectiveness of the revolution, especially when this revolution is led by industrialists who respect the (reactionary) scheme of a society of winners, champions, a society of mobilized militants who are effective and efficient? How could we not become like Saint Bernard, who didn’t have a minute to lose? Shouldn’t we move Agamben’s obsession to get out of the vicious circularities of sovereignty, shouldn’t we shift this obsession into permanent questioning to get out of the domination of efficiency, realization, and effectuation?
Non-religious political practice, not teleological, without illusion, without hope, without wonderful purpose, a practice derived from industrial religion, from the absolute immanence of the practical progress of a new type that escapes economic control, this is what the Yellow Vests movement opens up, the Ouvroir de Politique Potentielle.
So, wouldn’t the “philosopher” of the Yellow Vests be the “philosopher” of the Zapatista movement: JOHN HOLLOWAY? I refer here to a premonitory article from Monday morning, LM 108 of June 13, 2017, on John Holloway: https://lundi.am/Le-soulevement-contre-le-despotisme
Holloway and Zapatism; the “crack option” distinguished from Agamben’s “destitution”;
and above all, the politics of wrestling, the politics of struggle: what must be called “negative politics”, of which the Yellow Vests open the field.
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