17 July 2009

Revising the manifesto

We may have been under a misapprehension about Chaos Marxism all the way back to the beginning. This is not, I think, really about "magick" or "memetics" in the way we previously thought - of "word viruses", or even something like Phillip K Dick's logos plasmate, spreading from a single point of revelation to set off the entire world. That's not gnosis as I understand it. It's left-brain thinking, it's religious thinking, and elitist to boot. It's behind all the nasty, smug, we-are-the-illuminati bullshit you get from virtually every socialist or anarchist group out there.

No, let's go back to the basics of the Marxist tradition, in which it makes clear that consciousness begins in matter and biological life and is not in any way separate from it. Everyone already has the gnosis, Gramsci's "good sense", some little seed at the bottom of their consciousness which sees this world for what it really is. To use a religious metaphor - God talks to everyone, all the time. The Prophets are those who not only listen, but tell people about it and try to put it into practice. Our job is not to slavishly follow the Prophets, but to learn from their example.

What distinguishes the revolutionary class is the combination of a) consciousness; b) the power to transform reality in the light of that consciousness. The two must go together - power without consciousness is the very essence of capitalist society as it stands, while consciousness without power descends directly into "religion" and "academia" considered in the pejorative senses. Middle-class radicals are allowed to develop critical thinking skills through which they can discover what's really going on, because they will have a huge built-in blind spot around the question of preserving their own class privileges and thus will be prone to "dreaming that they're awake". The workers, traditionally, have nothing to lose but their chains, and the whole system relies on their consent to even exist.

The consciousness that will change the world is defined as critical thinking skills coupled with an immunity to the illusions (identity, material privileges, other forms of ideology), that THE MACHINE uses to keep us docile. One big problem is that the working class in the advanced capitalist countries has been incorporated far more into THE MACHINE than it was back in Marx's day, by (paradoxically) the universal education and universal suffrage that previous generations thought for. When we began to become aware, the Prince of This World offered us a deal - subservience in return for material gifts and Not Being Responsible.

You can't teach someone else "the truth". If they don't work it out for themselves, it's not actually true for them. Middle-class radicals and outlaws see the nature of the enemy but they don't see in detail how the enemy works, because if they were close enough to see it, they'd be too close to even know it existed. That's the essential paradox. We can't wake the global proletariat up. They have to do it for themselves - and when they wake up they'll wake everybody up. Hell, we can't even be sure that we're awake. So best to do that first, because you know what happens when the sleepwalker leads the sleepwalker.

1 comment:

  1. I've always seen "progress" as something of an illusion, as a lie the Machine uses to give the masses a sense of purpose for their toil.

    Properly speaking then, the revolution isn't about acquiring anything we don't already have, but rather about cultivating awareness of what is now and always has been, our birthright. To paraphrase Hakim Bey, "Chaos never died, the empire never got started, eros never grew a beard." Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never even existed (outside of our heads).

    I guess we could say then the task of CM is to cultivate and water our seeds of "good sense" and ensure that they blossom forth into action.