10 October 2010
Chaos Marxism aims to be a technology of ecstacy - or, more importantly, integration of ecstacy into the Real World of Horrible Jobs, of inner and outer worlds - which has always been the goal of mystical paths and dialectical materialist praxis. Capitalism generalises alienation, in which work is turned against the self; and, in the modern era, a "Chinese Wall" is erected between production and consumption, with the ideological apparatus of society actively encouraging a "split personality" (the dutiful worker always pushing for greater productivity suddenly transforms into a raging, impulse-buying party animal and sexual tyrannosaurus after 5 pm and on weekends).
In this sense, you could even make an argument that the Stalinist and fascist party-states had a slight edge, whereby officially promoted ecstatic states (generally in the form of leader worship, eg North Korean "mass games", or "compulsory social solidarity" events) were closely integrated into the daily grind of routine labour. "It's very chaste, but everyone has a good time," as James Church's Inspector O put it. Recent advances in the "creative workplace" in the capitalist countries are catching up, though - they're trying to integrate fun into work, but in such a way as to subordinate fun to work.
But Stalinist, fascist and capitalist technologies are simply safety valves - imposition of order leads to escalation of chaos, so there are clearly defined limits to "official ecstacy". When Saturnalia is over, the slaves go back to being slaves. So much "revolutionary" practice, unfortunately, fits into this remarkably well - political activism is something you do in your leisure time and lunch breaks, which is 100% compatible with the perpetuation of capitalist normality, as it's just another leisure activity. Assertion of workers' power and self-management on the job breaks the cycle, but of course that can't be done by isolated individuals - it needs social organisation, which capitalist normality does everything in its power to prevent.
So our problem is: how do we achieve ecstacy in a way in which something is disrupted in the system of the Black Iron Prison, rather than just letting off steam? Probably the answer lies in personality integration - that we should strive to become the same person on the job, in the sack, and communing with the Gods, rather than building barriers and compartments between experiences. They actually enforce something like this in Stalinist countries, but in the service of a closed, static, self-perpetuating social order - the people who talk about North Korea as "neo-feudal" are close to the mark, although I'd say it's much more like the Byzantine emperor+bureaucracy system than European feudalism, which if nothing else was radically decentralised.
Reactionary systems: workaday self and ecstatic self merged in a static loop.
Capitalism: workaday self divorced from ecstatic self.
Revolutionary systems: workaday self and ecstatic self merged in a dynamic loop.