Saturday, May 31, 2008
On a Thursday in mid-May, the Senate did something that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. Led by Democrat Byron Dorgan, the senators--Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives--gave Rupert Murdoch and his fellow media moguls the sort of slap that masters of the universe don't expect from mere mortals on Capitol Hill. With a voice vote that confirmed the near-unanimous sentiment of senators who had heard from hundreds of thousands of Americans demanding that they act, the legislators moved to nullify an FCC attempt to permit a radical form of media consolidation: a rule change designed to permit one corporation to own daily and weekly newspapers as well as television and radio stations in the same local market. The removal of the historic bar to newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership has long been a top priority of Big Media. They want to dramatically increase revenues by buying up major media properties in American cities, shutting down competing newsrooms and creating a one-size-fits-all local discourse that's great for the bottom line but lousy for the communities they are supposed to serve and a nightmare for democracy.
Labels: What's wrong with this picture?
Since sacrifice is a regular concomitant of every religion, sacrifice must, according to the law of causality, have originated simultaneously with religion. Consequently, sacrifice is as old as religion itself. It is evident that the nature of the explanation given of sacrifice will depend on the views one takes of the origin of religion in general.
(a) Widely held today is the theory of evolution, which, in accordance with the principles of Darwin, endeavours to trace the origin of religion from the degraded stage of the half-animal, religionless primeval man, and its gradual development to higher forms. The scheme of development is naturally different according to the personal standpoint of the investigator. As the starting-point for the comparative study of the lowest religious forms is usually taken the uncivilized savage of today, the true portrait of the primeval man (Lubbock, Tyler, etc.). An attempt is made to construct an ascending scale from the crudest Fetishism to naturalistic Polytheism, from which develops ethical Monotheism, as the highest and purest product. Until recently the Animism (q, v.) proposed by Tylor was the prevalent theory; this traced religion from the ancient worship of souls, ghosts, spirits of ancestors, etc. (under the influence of fear). At this original stage sacrifice had no other purpose than the feeding and entertaining of these deified beings, or their appeasement and conciliation, if hostile dispositions were ascribed to them (demons). In recent times this explanation, once honoured as dogma in the history of religions, is most vigorously combated by the experts themselves as untenable. It has been recognized that Animism and the kindred Fetichism and Totemism represent only secondary elements of many nature-religions, not the essence. "In any case," says Chantepie de la Saussaye, "a purely animistic basis of religion can nowhere be shown" ("Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte", I, Tübingen, 1905, p. 12). But if the origin of the idea of God cannot be explained from Animism, entertainment cannot have been the original idea of sacrifice, especially since, according to the most recent investigations, the primeval religions seem to converge rather towards Monotheism. Just as in the consciousness of all sacrificing peoples the gods remained sublime above souls, spirits, and demons, sacrifice as a religious gift far transcended food and drink. But, wherever the gods are represented as companions at the banquet, there always appeared the right idea, that by his participation in the sacrificial gifts man enters into communion with the gods, and (e.g. in the case of the ancient Indian soma drink) even partakes of divine strength. The obscuring of this idea by anthropomorphic errors, fostered by priestly deceit, did indeed here and there lead to the one-sided "feeding of the gods" (cf. Dan., xiv, 2 sqq.), but this may by no means be regarded as a primitive institution, Animism is most successfully refuted by Andrew Lang ('The Making of a Religion", London, 1898).
(b) A second naturalistic explanation, which may be called the "social theory", derives religion from social instincts and accordingly sacrifice from the communal meal which was established to strengthen and seal in religious manner the tribal community. These communal meals are supposed to have given the first impulse to sacrifice. These fundamental thoughts may be developed in several ways. As Totemism, in addition to its religious, has also a distinctly social element, and in this respect is on a far higher level than Animism, some authors (especially W. Robertson Smith, "The Religion of the Semites", London, 1894) believe that the origin of animal sacrifices can be traced back to Totemism. When the different clans or divisions of a tribe partook at the communal meal of the sacred animal (totem) which represented their god and ancestors, they believed that by this meal they participated in the divine life of the animal itself. Sacrifice in the sense of offering gifts to the Deity, the symbolic replacing of human life by an animal, the idea of expiation, etc., are declared to belong to a much later period of the history of sacrifice. Originally the gifts of cereals had rather the character of a tribute due to the gods, and this idea was later transferred to the animal sacrifices. It is however very questionable whether this totemistic theory, notwithstanding some excellent suggestions, entirely meets the facts. Certainly the social force of religion and its significance in the formation of communities should not be underestimated; but, apart from the fact that Totemism is not, any more than Animism, an explanation of the origin of religion, the hypothesis is contradicted by the certain fact that in the earliest epoch the whole or burnt offering existed side by side with the communal meal, the former being equally old, if not older than the latter. In the consciousness of the peoples the sacrificial meal constituted not so much an element of the sacrifice, as the participation, confirmation, and completion of the same. On the same ground what is called the "banquet theory" of the late Bishop Bellord must also be rejected; this theory refers the essence of the sacrifice to the meal, and declares a sacrifice without a meal impossible (cf. The Ecclesiastical Review, XXXIII, 1905, pp. 1 sqq., 258 sqq.). This theory is not in accordance with the facts; for, as it is compelled to refer the essence of the Sacrifice of the Mass solely to the priest's communion, instead of to the twofold transubstantiation, the truth of the sacrifice of the Cross can be maintained only on the forced and false supposition that the Last Supper in its organic connexion with the Crucifixion imprinted on the latter its sacrificial character. (For further particulars, see MASS, SACRIFICE OF THE.)
(c) So far as we may gather from revelation, the most natural and probable view seems to be that sacrifice originated in the positive command of God, since, by the original revelation in Paradise, the whole religion of mankind appears to have been established in advance on a supernatural basis. The Greek legend of the invention of sacrifice by Prometheus and the giant Chiron, together with similar legends of Asiatic religions, might be interpreted as reminiscences of the Divine origin of sacrifice. The positive command to sacrifice might even after the Fall have been preserved by tradition among the descendants of Adam, and thus spread among the pagan nations of all lands. The idolatrous deviations from the paradisaic idea of sacrifice would thus appear as regrettable errors, which, however, would not be more difficult to explain than the general fall of the human race. But, however plausible and probable this hypothesis may be, it is unprovable, and indeed unnecessary for the explanation of sacrifice. Regarding sacrifice in Paradise the Bible gives us no information; for the explanation of "eating of the Tree of Life" as a sacramental food offering is a later theologumenon which the acuteness of theologians, following Augustine's lead, has devised. But without recurring to a Divine ordinance, the origin of sacrifice may easily be explained by purely psychological motives. In consideration of the relation of sonship between man and God, which was felt more deeply in primitive times than subsequently, the only evidence of sincere inner adoration that the creature could give was by sacrificing some of his own possessions, thus visibly expressing his absolute submission to the Divine Majesty. Nor was it less in keeping with the inner promptings of man to declare his gratitude to God by gifts offered in return for benefits received, and to give through the medium of sacrificial presents expression to his petitions for new favours. Finally, the sinner might hope to free himself of the oppressive consciousness of guilt, when in the spirit of contrition he had to the best of his ability repaired the wrong done to the Divinity. The more childlike and ingenuous the conception of God formed by primitive man, the more natural and easy was for him the introduction of sacrifice. A truly good child offers little gifts to his parents, though he does not know what they will do with them. The psychological theory thus seems to offer the best explanation of the origin of sacrifice.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Labels: unexploded cluster bombs
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Commentary: A journey beneath the secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
TO BE READ OUT TO SUPPORTERS OF
THE RAYTHEON NINE ON
TUESDAY, MAY 27TH, 2008
OUTSIDE THE LAGANSIDE COURTHOUSE
IN BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
I want to add my voice to the voices of a number of other people in support of the Raytheon Nine. Do not let the Raytheon Nine stand alone! The Raytheon Nine have shown us how to think and speak and act for ourselves! Yes, stand with them now for your honour, and stand with them for the honour of your children!
In 1965, I participated in Dr. Martin Luther King's Selma Freedom March. I was not intimidated then by red-neck Sheriffs, attack dogs, and water-cannons ... and I see no reason why I should be intimidated by the Raytheon War Corporation now! In 1965, I thought I had been caught up in a huge spectacle and struggle of truly Biblical proportions; indeed it marked me for all the years of my life. At the time, there were those people who said it was an “End to History”; however, it was not the end of history ... the struggle for justice and freedom in the U.S. continues unabated to this day.
In 1967, I participated in “The March on the Pentagon” to oppose that other never-ending war, the war in Vietnam. Such mass-actions, nonviolent and deliberative, were an indication that ordinary people in large numbers could indeed challenge the mindless and deluded policies of government leaders. At the time, Abbie Hoffman told the mass-media that we would levitate the entire Pentagon thirty feet off the ground. Sadly, then and ever since, the only levitations we could witness were in the insatiable careerist schemes of the military officers. At the time, Jerry Rubin told the mass-media that we would encircle the Pentagon entirely and conduct “a hippie exorcism” of the evil. But clearly the exorcism failed, and the struggle for meaningful peace and justice continues unabated to this day.
In 1968, I was one of the protesters in Chicago against the Democrat Convention. Our insistence that the war must be stopped, and our unrelenting commitment to direct action, effectively brought to an end the political careers of President Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Thus we revealed that even ordinary people could mark history itself, and challenge the High and Mighty.
In 1972, I participated in the Newry civil rights march in Northern Ireland. At the time, there were people who said that the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland was a mere imitation of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. But such people were crudely and prissily ignorant of the connections, specific and concrete, between the Antislavery and Abolitionist movement in the U.S. and freedom movements in Ireland, north and south.
Sadly, all kinds of people, even people in contending factions, turned away and allowed themselves and the entire landscape of Ireland and Northern Ireland to be frozen over into ice, yes the political ice of the Eighteenth Century, and contending clichés from the political ice of the Eighteenth Century! (Structural and political notions from the Eighteenth Century have been singularly unsuccessful in resolving any of the conflicts and strife of the last one-hundred years, and in more than one part of the world!)
In 1981, I took part in protests against the circumstances surrounding the death of Bobby Sands. Indeed, I was totally overwhelmed by my experiences at that time. I could not understand the failure of so many people ( ... people in England and Ireland and the U.S.) to understand the implications of a fundamental disrespect of what is human! Nevertheless, the struggle for respect, simple respect, continues unabated to this day.
The Raytheon War Corporation lied to its own workers. The Raytheon Corporation lied to the citizens of Derry. The Raytheon Corporation lied repeatedly to government officials in Northern Ireland. And the Raytheon Nine spoke truth to power! (Do not let them stand alone!) It is horrible to think that human beings should pay with imprisonment or worse for the exercise of that most human right which, no matter what party or faction we belong to, we must all value and defend.
We live in a time when tyrants and militarists, throughout the world, have become ever more crass and venal. Indeed, they have become nothing but laughable and empty caricatures of themselves ... as they fashion unrelentingly a new dark age of brutality and want! And the Raytheon Corporation, flippant and shallow, is the perfect example of the type, as they have designed the way for the commodification and the merchandising of war itself.
Is it not time that we all work together for a peaceful and just society? Is it not time that we all push through to find a way to make new, truly human relations? I suggest that the movement for a just and peaceful society must itself be creative or it will not be at all!
The Raytheon Nine spoke truth to power! Do not let them stand alone!
323 Fourth Street,
55720 – 2051
"The energy requirements of laboratories, by contrast, pale in comparison. According to most proposals, tomorrow's beef would be grown in bioreactors, filled with a solution consisting primarily of water and glucose. Animal stem cells would be placed in these bioreactors, where their proliferation would be abetted by the presence of growth factors, perhaps made from fungi.
Relatively small amounts of electricity (potentially derived from solar panels) would be required to regulate the temperature in these bioreactors, but also to provide a bit of stimulation to the cells as they grow into tissues. To replicate the taste and mouth-feel of naturally grown meat, the lab-grown victuals would have to be exercised—cows stretch their muscle tissues when they move, which in turn affects the flavor of their flesh. A minor electric current can mimic the effects of bovine movement. There has also been talk of adding polysaccharide beads to the bioreactors; as the temperature or acidity of the solution changes, these beads would expand or contract, thus providing the necessary workout for the nascent tissue. The beads would likely be made from the exoskeletons of arthropods and are completely nontoxic.
Lab-grown meat would also be more efficient in that no energy would have to be expended to create unwanted byproducts—specifically skeletons. Nor would there be any problems with waste management, a big plus since manure is a worrying contaminant of water supplies. And the lab approach would make locavorism that much easier; why buy lamb cubes from 1,000 miles away when they can come from the corner bioreactor instead?"
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
när sina kroppar
i nariga påsar
i den stinkande samlingen
överlåter åt de intakta organismerna
att leta lyte i lösgulans slemmiga hinna
klistrar sig mot huden och tär på cellerna
som desintegrerande höjer sig
för att slutligen svälla
Labels: POEMS BY HARL
... The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the priviliege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolisation. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.
Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, ie in our evalutations of human behaviour. What separates us are only intellectual 'props' and 'rationalisation' in Freud's language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things. With friendly thanks and best wishes
Yours, A. Einstein
An abridgement of the letter from Albert Einstein to Eric Gutkind from Princeton in January 1954, translated from German by Joan Stambaugh.
Alltid någon annan: vem/var?
fukt och bläck, lumpenhet och blek ditills skaldinna - lercysta, bombom-krater, svällaren purrar i minnesoljan, skalperar mjukosten, utgjuter bivaxet:
sikadus, bleknos, lyft blicken eller autopsidera som vallfärden i vecket på uppladdningens råa körtel
tre procent tordmule (tillräckligt) "i-komisk trakadance" min tragglande tomat tillåter rosa räfsa
rynk-tråd (Attis mjölkchoklad)
- Aasath-ink zo schalla-bee!
- Min journal 2000 är en smärtsam nackspärr!
- Aenu-zinkable iz o-oposit!
- Ah, le meditation animale?
Formlöst! Inkräktande kräktare, kastrullisk västgotologisk synförmåga, en helomvändning outtalar glidflygande underkroppar och förlamad, överskuggande av parikapulvret, kacklar kadavret ordspråk:
- Sockra, sockra, missljuder brackan och bredvid zink-malenmorgonrodnad; audiovisuellt och kallt, med aura-öron
och skel-beskydd: Ur-röv, Ur-röv!
Näsblodad återkom synen: „
Den unge böjde tiggande på huvudet medan Översten hade svårt att hålla ögonen stängda, och allt suddades plötsligt ut från ryggen på träkalvens snidare:
de uppskurna läpparna talade återigen:
- Ladis summar nua:o'kla rida dei una,flaska mander kola vida,mendos liter kompa du.
Randis godd, senar snodd likar menar hela boll,
asklar indas, uta lunga, vita men sommar sen, reta reta bambla est;
nubela mumbela budd - exadita onus slem.
Golvet täcks av kinder; jag halkade och expanderade till fiskdansarens lila komplamerade lill-udd…
Labels: POEMS BY HARL
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
By Robert Chasse
The Situationist International circulated a document in 1966 on "The Decline
and Fall of the Spectacular-Commodity Economy," which analyzed the conditions
of the Watts riot along lines that showed that modern capitalism, even at its
most affluent, presents very serious contradictions, and is incapable of
resolving them harmoniously. This, at a time when all the apologists of the
system claimed -- as they continue to claim, though with less assurance --
that the system has changed, and transformed the social conditions that it
breeds. But the system -- we are beginning to realize again -- has in effect
just sophisticated the methods of repression and, until the riots, offered a
perfectly dissimulated portrait of social harmony. Watts -- and now Newark and
Detroit -- have shattered the myth. But how many are aware of it? The word
race today is being used on all sides to conceal the truth. How will the
conscious and unconscious defenders of the system attribute to race -- and not
class -- the black woman's proposition that hostages be taken at random from
among the rioters, then shot and left to rot in the street?
The Everyday Misery Transfigured
A man is told he works 40 hours a week at three dollars an hour, and that he
makes $120. The 40 hours does not include lunch time, time in preparing for
work, travel time, so that the real time devoted to the job -- which is all the
time that cannot be devoted to anything else -- is increased by four or five
hours a day. He works then about 60 hours a week. He gives his employer 20
hours, he makes two dollars an hour. Before he has spent a cent of what is
called his salary, he gives half of it away: taxes are not only federal; there
is the city, the state, social security, pensions, sales taxes -- city, state,
federal -- taxes on insurance, insurance itself. If a man works 60 hours a week,
he makes about 60 dollars; gives a third of that or more to rent, another third
or more to food. He is left with the rest, a rest rarely sufficient for him to
buy outright any of the goods offered on the market, but a rest sufficient to
make him buy on credit, buy a house for thirty years, a car for 2 or 3 or 5. It
is life on the installment plan, lives at the mercy of the things around them,
men controlled by their possessions.
But, even so, nearly every man [sic] considers his life begins after work, that
his real life is the possibilities of pleasure open to him. It begins after 6 or
7 o'clock; he has four hours a day "for living." But even here he is not left
alone. There is every attempt to regiment his pleasure: television, movies,
ballgames, organized vacations or the places where they can occur, books -- the
circus of life.
In contract negotiations between General Motors and the workers' unions, the
company expressed the fear that the propositions from the unions would make
unemployment more attractive than working, it would be rocking chair dough,
fishing money. The problem is not that it couldn't be done but that it would --
in the words of management -- make unemployment more attractive. The latent
avowal that, practically, labor could be eliminated. What stands in the way? if
not the world organization of life, institutions that men [sic] perpetuate
though they have outlived their usefulness?
Should a man [sic] wander through the city and see through the busy but aimless
throngs, consuming themselves, he would be amazed. It has all the problems of
ancient cities: of sanitation and waste disposal, noise, travel and
communication, crime and corruption, but aggravated into another dimension by
congestion. The results are environmental pollution -- of air and outlying
waters -- mechanized travel reduced to a crawl, homes making way to streets,
streets to bridges, highways, tunnels, the soil growing in cost, the buildings
allowed to decay; the people living closer and closer to one another in shells
that are more and more hollow, whole buildings become sounding boards for the
noises in them. There is a choking at all levels of city life. Starting from New
York, going north, you must travel over 200 miles -- get beyond Boston -- before
you leave the city. The suburbs are merely the concentric circles of these
immense stoneworks. Life, beyond the moviehouse and shopping center, is supposed
to reside at the center. In the cities, silence is no longer silence but the
memory of a noise. They are hotter than the surrounding countryside, vast
amounts of carbon dioxide are produced in them, produce an oxide in combination
with lead from motor vehicles, change weather patterns, air currents, bring
drought to arable land hundreds of miles away. The prevailing organization of
life, in the name of the city, is destroying man's place in nature. The city is
a paradise of culture and civilization, some sort of private joke. The world,
they say, has never had it so good. The standard of living has never been so
high. Men [sic] have never been talked to more, communicated to more, in effect,
controlled more. The mass media know their power. And if they do not know it,
they exercise it. What they are selling is not this or that product -- whether
it be an approach to city problems, to a governing system, or to soap -- but a
belief in the viability and soundness -- above all the permanence -- of the
prevailing organization of life. They hold the people in the sorcery of their
perverted language. And the language is perverted so long as its use is the
concealment of reality. There is a piecemeal and fragmentary approach to
questions or problems which is deception. When The New York Times attempts to
separate the so-called civil rights issue from the war in Vietnam, it is
practicing such a deception.
It is common nowadays to condemn the whole system and then systematically
attempt to recuperate it in its parts.
The United States has 3,300,000 men in its standing armies, ready at the drop of
a hat to enforce freedom and its will anywhere in the world. Such are the
imperatives of empire.Beyond that there is probably over a half-million men in
the various police forces around the country. New York City alone has money
allocated for over 32,000 cops. The law is made to protect property and the cops
enforce the law. The size of the police force is no doubt a reflection of the
relationship people have to property. The police are the only individuals in the
community who, armed to the teeth, watch us in our streets. Theirs is the
fundamental illusion that the property they protect is theirs -- and must be
protected at all cost, against any life. All men are secret thieves. Hence the
troubled fraternity between the police and those who confirm their conviction by
being outward thieves.
There have been race riots before in America: a hundred years ago, white men
turned to Harlem for black skin to lynch, to burn, to drown. In those nights men
turned from setting the torch to buildings to a negro hut, resembling the
lynching parties on smaller scale that still haunt the south. There is a passion
for mutilation, a search for horror. It becomes a frenzy of killing, a madness.
I have the vision of the glowing whites of men's eyes around dilated pupils in
the torch light. Racism is the expression of the world that turns one man [sic]
against the other as a matter of course, as a necessity of its own development,
and sanctions it.
The riots that are sweeping America today can only be called race [riots] by ab
extension of the white man's skin to the businesses he [sic] owns. Provoked in
every case by the action of the police, people explode out of anger into
violence. And in each case -- see Watts, Newark or Detroit -- they become
expressions of joy: people dance in the streets, and feel, like the Governor
said, as though they were people laughing at a funeral.
The peaceful demonstrations of the early sixties expressed the modest desire for
a share of the crop. The riot is the expression of the feeling that the system
will not give -- or give in -- and that what we need we want right now,
immediately. The enemy is not man but the locked door, the padlock, the grill,
the vault. Once broken into and its treasures taken, what can be sensibly done
with storehouses if not to burn them to the ground? Beyond the storehouses lies
the ghetto, and then, the city. The cry of joy that exploded out of Watts was
"Burn, baby, burn." This is not the destruction of property; it is the direct
expression that property as possession against every man has had its day.
The violence directed against men [sic] in these riots comes from the police.
Check the lists of wounded and dead. The police are notoriously trigger-happy,
but they are still subject to their chiefs. It might be revealing in New York
City to compare the number of people killed by the police under the rule of
Commissioner Leary and that of his predecessor Mr. Murphy. No doubt in other
cities the game is the same. When people destroy a car, they may beat up the
occupant: they are not fundamentally out to kill him [sic]. In Newark, a cop --
and for the ghetto a cop is first of all his function -- was beaten. He took out
his revolver and, as the papers described it, accidentally shot one of the
youths around him. At this point, they beat him to death. The insanity is to to
see the direction of the violence, not to see the action of those youths as a
But then what can the police do? If it were not that they are armed and
dangerous, one could pity them for being victims -- and perhaps pity them
anyway. The question is not whether there are sensible men who join the police
force -- or that all cops are pathological killers -- but that by becoming a
cop, a man either is or is transformed into a willing weapon of the system.
Their racism is the racism of the system. But the same unconditional violence
met by the black man [sic] has been met by the whites. One need only remember
police frenzy against white workers in the days when the trade union movement
was wracked by the armed violence of the established order. One need only look
at police action in the face of wildcat strikes by white workers. The class wars
had come to a head. The thing with racism is, it is class war in daily life.
The problem today is not why the black man is rioting but why the white man is
not. The riot is the momentary transfiguration of the everyday misery that
afflicts us, called "life" by the prevailing organization of it.
The early demonstrations were ignored. The riot must be eliminated, by shot and
bayonette if necessary. It is not a fundamental social change but it is an
expression too close for comfort -- and in the streets -- of its need. If the
state was the organization of resistance to want, it is now the organization of
resistance to plenty. It strives for the continuation of transforming men into
things, objects for labor, in a world that can dispense with labor. That even
dimly sensed by the rioters is a terrifying prospect for the state. There are
men, unfortunately, who are never so much attached to a past as when they feel
Parody of all tragedies, we are living ina world that enforces want.
"EMERGENCY STATE ENDED IN DETROIT: Some looters integrated," The New York
Times, July 27, 1967
Anti-white feeling ran high on 12th Street in the heart of the city's major
Negro ghetto, but elsewhere -- and especially in integrated neighborhoods --
Negro looters smiled and waved at white policemen and newsmen. Along one
section of Grand River Avenue, where Negroes and Southern whites live in
adjoining neighborhoods, stores were raided by integrated bands of looters. At
Packer's, a blocklong food and clothing center, a Negro looter boosted a white
looter through a window. Scores of other Negroes and whites looted and chatted
side by side in the store, loading shopping carts, boxes and bags with booty.
Negroes, who on Monday were carting off almost everything in sight, milled
about the streets yesterday afternoon, waving and smiling at the heavily
integrated paratroop units. It was clear, too, that the looting cut across
class, as well as racial, lines. One well-dressed Negro filled up the trunk of
a new Pontiac convertible with shoes, shirts and suits. Nearby, an emaciated
woman a shopping cart heaped high with smoked hams and canned goods. Some
Negroes obviously considered the riot a summertime frolic. At 3 am, two Negro
couples perched on a fence just off the John Lodge Freeway, alternately
kissing and watching firemen battle a major blaze. Once, the couples broke
their embrace to shout a warning to firemen. A drunken middle-aged Negro man
had staggered from a building and was firing a shotgun into the still night
air. Police arrived within minutes and placed the man in handcuffs. "God damn
it, shoot me," the man shouted at the policemen.
The Criminal Insurrection, or Laughing at a Funeral
Riots rage through dozens of cities and towns -- and tonight as this is being
written. Detroit is going up in flames, white looters and snipers have joined in
with the blacks, nearly 5,000 paratroopers have moved in with automatic weapons,
tanks and a company of 25 helicopters. Yesterday it was New Jersey, today
Michigan, and then? Each one of these riots is an enclave; taken together we are
in the middle of an insurrection that has been going on for over a month,
establishing in the streets a pattern of guerilla warfare that has already
required channeling into the ghetto's troops returning from Vietnam.
Understandably, the government hesitated to commit troops to the suppression of
domestic unrest: by acting so outwardly it becomes touchy trying to maintain the
permanence of its duplicity, the image of its benevolent paternalism. These give
way under gunfire and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property damage
to the realities of state: class interest, brute force, total disregard for the
lives of all individuals. What matters is sacred property, control of the
population, domination. Those who are in government today are perfectly
well-aware that their function is not to administer wealth, but to control it --
and for the benefit of the ruling class. They will act against the violence of
the population to protect their own grounds for violence. They will not tolerate
violence in Detroit like they do not tolerate it in Vietnam. And use the same
There has never been a case when the people were not right against the
government, against the prevailing organization of life -- whether on the job,
in their cities, their strikes, demonstrations, insurrections. When they cease
reacting to whatever is being done to them and, as the cute phrase goes, assume
command of their own destinies, we enter the way to fundamental social change.
The sociologists are busily at work trying to muddle the waters: these riots are
anarchistic and rise out of the declassed, the workless, the mob -- while the
workers are growing increasingly away from such people by a greater and greater
assumption of the American way of life, which is to work yourself into a heart
attack to procure the goods at credit. How fundamental a division is this in the
face of cybernation? where the unions struggle to keep workers at the task of
production, which can be carried on without them? And in the face of the workers
who are beginning to realize that the house they've been paying for 20 years is
merely a reflection of their ability to slave away. Out of a job, they discover
that the real owner of the house is the bank that holds the mortgage. But even
the sociologists will not claim that this is a criminal insurrection, carried on
by the criminal element, hoodlums, or, as the Governor of California [Ronald
Reagan] called them, "mad dogs." The sociologists at least know that those
called "criminals" would be slitting their own throats by fighting the state;
that the subterranean world of crime is an outgrowth of the prevailing
organization of life, that it is a reflection of that life itself, without the
The insurrection -- whatever be the future attempts to confuse it, to gloss over
it, to gum it up -- is a clear sign that between the people and the state no
orderly redress of grievances is any longer possible. There are no grievances to
be made to the state -- there should be no state. We have witnessed an intuitive
act of liberation from the prevailing system, beyond the flash of temper that
characterizes any riot, no matter how violent. The riot does not show this
determination, this persistence. The riot is without joy; and where during the
past few weeks in the ghettoes have the people not danced with joy? In Detroit,
some of the Uncle Toms complained bitterly that the police allowed a Roman
holiday atmosphere to develop. And when the troops arrived the people milled
around in the streets, waving and smiling at them, in a carnival atmosphere.
What did the soldiers feel, returning from Vietnam, flying in the same planes,
running under the same helicopters, walking behind the same tanks, about the
same job of suppression? -- only here the joke of fighting for freedom can't
take, and the other joke of fighting a world Communist conspiracy must certainly
be starting to come through as a transparent piece of buffoonery. In Newark, one
of the national guardsmen fingered his weapon nervously, and wondered about the
first time he has been told to pull the trigger, that it has been to shoot
The state, the government, the prevailing organization of life -- at this clear
moment, before we sink back and for how long into the miasma -- is isolated:
fighting for its life against a population that has revealed through its own
action the roots of domination of life upon which the state rests, and for the
continuation of which it exists.
The cry of life is being heard in these hours around the country, and the sound
of it, in the words of the Governor of New Jersey, is like laughing at a
Hall of Mirrors
The Black Power Conference a few days after Newark burned established a general
consensus around black capitalism. The spirit of opposition to white domination
must not be assimilated to the simple desire of replacing it by a black one. A
black bourgeoisie would be faced with the necessity of maintaining want and need
-- of organizing against abundance -- in ways no doubt identical to those
practiced by the prevailing state. Behind the desire to want to control the
means for the organization of black wealth as behind the fear of extinction of
the blacks (as in excess to the needs of white wealth) lies the same world of
imposed poverty, a hoax to keep men [sic] struggling for what they already have,
their's for the taking.
There is no need to make elaborate proofs of starvation in America, tumefied
bellies from Kentucky to Mississippi, long-range starvation through malnutrition
in the ghettoes and scattered through all the communities with high unemployment
rates. We have seen photos in the daily press, we have heard Congress be
pickeyune over the word they would like to choose up there to designate the
condition. And the next day the farmers are paid not to grow wheat. Confusedly
perhaps, but surely, all the bureaucrats -- from president to welfare worker --
realize that the problem of poverty is administrative. Men [sic] are not dying
because there is not enough food to go around. This is not the older struggle of
tearing out of nature enough to feed the living. The truth of poverty is that it
is imposed. Anything today that does not aim at a total dissolution of society
is a return to it, and thereby a re-intensification of its structure.
The project of the bourgeoisie has been to dominate nature, the old enemy, from
which nothing could be taken without its being torn away. The past 100 years --
and particularly the last 25 -- have witnessed the victory of this project. But
having dominated nature, the system organized for that purpose has merely tilted
over into plunder. So we are forced to live as though the ancient struggles were
still primary: the victory amounts to nothing. The potential for liberation is
denied. The illusion of scarcity drives them [?] into a false opposition, while
the true enemy remains, hard at work trying to recuperate the world that made
it. It maintains itself by a fragmentation of problems, which it sometimes calls
a pluralistic approach.
Besides the question of migration and immigration endemic to American cities,
the expansion of population, the desertion of farms for the cities, the city
faces a fundamental crisis in kind. It is no accident that the city is
de-natured. It has always been a fortress against the ancient enemy, nature. And
the enemy is [one] no longer. In the glassbubble cities of the city-planners, we
see a vision of the future as a mere extension of the present, a prefabricated
environment from which nature has been excluded. The system, as always, can only
mirror itself, draw logical extensions of itself, even on the time span of
eternity: whether on the morose tones of Spengler or the jubilant ones of
The transformation of historical existence into liberation also involves the
destruction of what has been the city. It must be reborn in a new relation with
the countryside, lead to a new harmony between man and nature. The rioters
wanted to burn down the cities like the wildcat strikers turn to the destruction
of cars and homes: intuitively they attack the dead objects that serve to crush
them, to maintain them in their servitude. Each saw in the riots the particular
realization or premonition of his dream, which could be a nightmare. But how
many chose to ignore the direct attack they laid on what is fed to all of us as
"life," with its well-defined roads to factory and pool-hall, to work and
pleasure, both organized, both shells, both a continuation of existence by
forced means, in the shadow of life?
Also available from the Council for the Liberation of Daily Life [Robert Chasse
and Bruce Elwell]: "Desire and Need," and "The Human Condition and Beyond,"
From COMMENT [Murray Bookchin, NYC]: "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought," and
"Toward a Liberatory Technology."
From the Situationist International [Tony Verlaan, NYC]: "Address to the
Revolutionaries of Algeria and of all other Countries," "The Totality for Kids,"
"The Decline and Fall of the Spectacular Commodity Economy," "On the Poverty of
Student Life," "Ten Days that Shook the University," and "The Return of the Durr