05 October 2009

Predecessors

And there I was thinking I was all unique and cool because I realised that the "activist lifestyle" was the enemy. Some French libcoms got there already 40 years ago:

One cannot help being struck by the innumerable resemblance's which bring together militancy and religious activity. The same psychological attitudes can be found : the spirit of sacrifice but also the intransigence, the will to convert yet also the spirit of submissiveness. These resemblance's extend to the domain of rituals and ceremonies : sermons on unemployment, processions for Vietnam, references to the sacred texts of marxism-leninism, the cult of emblems (red flags). Don't the political churches also have their prophets, their great priests, their converts, their heresies, their schisms, their practising militants and their non- practising sympathisers! But revolutionary militancy is only a parody of religion. The richness, the insanity, the excesses of religious projects are beyond it; militancy aspires to seriousness, it wants to be reasonable, it believes that in exchange for this it can win a paradise here below. It doesn't even achieve this much. Jesus Christ is resurrected and ascends into heaven. Lenin decomposes in Red Square.

Although the authors hilariously demolish the pomoposities of the activist culture of the time, both Leninist and anarchist, the problem was that their organisation (the OJTR) never actually managed to perpetuate itself or play a role in the class struggle. So let that be a warning - here's an aphorism for you, the only valid criticism is constructive criticism. Anyone who offers criticism without offering a practical alternative is working for the forces of inertia and despair.

Here's some other anarchists talking about the problem with the "activist lifestyle". I am particularly intrigued by an argument that "radical activist" is an identity produced by capitalist society, just like being a cop or a priest or a teacher. I suppose "Magus" or "witch" is as well - the counter-culture is always-already implicated in the dominant culture, which of course could be seen as a source of strength and connected, if "activists" and "magickians" weren't too busy trying to persuade everyone that they were speshul li'l snowflakes.