23 March 2011

No-one likes me, and I do care.

A while back, a kindly contributor to our comments blog - Noisysphinx, I believe it was - suggested that instead of writing mopey articles on here, why I didn't just go out and spraypaint some slogans on some walls with some friends. I was too ashamed, at the time, to respond "Because I don't have any friends".

I was reminded of this by this article on a friendly allied blog, which led to me giving a flick through of the first volume of The Invisibles. I was of course struck by the great similarities of the general conceit of the work - and of course to a whole series of literature running from Illuminatus! to Join My Cult and beyond - to my own recurring fantasy...

I have a recurring dream where I have finally been accepted into the S00per-Sekrit Society of Cool People Who Are The Only Hope For The World. Their headquarters is up a set of clammy and portentous stone steps, and they have the damndest best parties up there. Everyone is extremely pretty and wants to have sex with me once we get back from our vital, world-changing missions.

Yeah, the issue there is that there are plenty of people who at least act like they're The Invisibles, or Hagbard Celine's crew, or the living continuity of the OTO or the Fourth International or whoever. And they would never have anything to do with me because I'm not socially skilled.

I am serious. You've seen Futurama, right? I have always been slightly more popular than Dr Zoidberg. Slightly. I had literally no friends in high school. Even the weird kids avoided or bullied me. The kid with Asperger's Syndrome looked down on me, for heaven's sake. At university I made a few "friends", by which I meant people who liked to have me around as the butt of their jokes. The kind of people who read The Invisibles back in the 1990s, to be dreadfully precise, would have never wanted anything to do with me because I was the kind of person people emigrated to avoid.

To some degree I also get that feeling reading principiadiscordia.net. That I can't actually take part in changing the world because I wouldn't be welcome at the parties of those other people who would have that agenda. All these articles about "affinity groups" etc. assume a basic level of "being able to fit in" which some of us just don't have.

Just as liberation theology tried to bring to Catholic Christianity "an option for the poor", I suppose Chaos Marxism wants to bring to revolutionary cultural politics "an option for the uncool".


  1. I always felt that it was a keen criticism of various Trot groups that they saw themselves like the Invisibles - and I still remember a line about that in 'Uncut' magazine in 2000 calling it 'the century's greatest rock'n'roll - or like the guys wot became the Bolsheviks, but just after 1905. You'd hear lines, like, "dude, they were, like, five guys back then!" This always justified "democratic centralism" because the revolution was/is always just about to kick off and no matter how small and ineffectual the group was, they could still convince themselves they were going to save the world.

  2. I have often, half jokingly but entirely seriously, said that one of the main reasons I got involved with activism is to make friends. I'm not a very social person. The activism world was like instant (ok, not quite instant or always stable, but still) community.

  3. B-youth: one thing that always impressed me about the ultra-trots is the belief that the internal discussions of their tiny group of the Chosen, and its feuding with similarly tiny groups, were easily as important as anything that happened in the Big Wide World. Check the amount of space that "inside baseball" gets in their press as compared to the Real World of Horrible Jobs. The Sparts, for example, AUDIOTAPED all their meetings for posterity. They really thought that future generations would study the history of how three guys ganged up to defeat two other guys and kick them out of "the party". Amazing.

  4. jdevries: And good on you if you actually fit in with that community, get invited to the parties, etc.

  5. The human species is overrated.

  6. Chaos Marxism is totally pro-human, though, and anti-human humans should probably hurry up on the voluntary extinction thing and make everyone happier.

  7. I think activism should not be an escape for people with social inability.

    Because then the utopia just becomes an illusion created to solve your problems.

    I´ve been there.

    Try to connect to people in the "real" world, respect them, go to some "real" world psycotherapy (not the subersive ones). If your ideas are true enough, they will be there with you even you are at the parties and all.

    If it was just a way to escape from reality, it will vanish in the moment you become happy.

    I believe the goal is to make every day people think, not to create social bubbles. Social bubbles are just the right way to destroy otherwise great ideas. I´m with Guattari there.

  8. Wow, if Guattari says that then I should actually read Anti-Oedipe/Mille Plateaux. I'm always flattered and humbled when I realise I'm only reproducing stuff that already existed somewhere else, which means it must be real.

  9. The part about social bubbles, he says that in a book written together with Suely Rolnik.

    That was said in the context of the end of dictatorship in Brazil and the rise of democratic republic, when society was getting organized to write the new constitution.

    I think institutional analists like Loureau, LaPassade, Guattari, and all latin american social psychology are mandatory readings.

  10. It is never reasonable to judge your social skills based on the opinions of PD. While I can't pretend that social skills don't matter, there are groups that are trying to change the world that have nearly universally poor social skills. They don't tend to get very far because of all the infighting, but they certainly throw the best parties (because of a combination of low expectations and high excitement).

    One thing that's for sure is that it's probably not a good idea to join a group that thinks it's The Invisibles. Very high expectations, very ill-defined goals, a total disregard for continuity, and a huge emphasis on spectacular impact. A group that focuses on looking cool won't do much more than looking cool except by accident, since it's a full-time job.