One way of posing the question of who “we” are in these times of war is by asking whose lives are considered valuable, whose lives are mourned, and whose lives are considered ungrievable. We might think of war as dividing populations into those who are grievable and those who are not. An ungrievable life is one that cannot be mourned because it has never lived, that is, it has never counted as a life at all. We can see the division of the globe into grievable and ungrievable lives from the perspective of those who wage war in order to defend the lives of certain communities, and to defend them against the lives of others—even if it means taking those latter lives.
Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?
In the wake of the collective murders in Paris on November 13th, and following on an earlier reflection (Paris: Seeing beyond pain and fear), we share below a series of texts of anarchist/autonomist inspiration, from anarchistnews.org, and the infoaut and crimethInc collectives, that may help to further think through the events …
Paris: Neither their war, nor their peace
“We must annihilate the enemies of the Republic… and strip those who besmirch the French spirit of their nationality.”
Manuels Valls, Prime Minister, 14th of November 2015
If one has to recognize a certain continuity of the French Republic, its for sure the continuity of mass murder. From the State Terror of 1793-1794 which gave birth to the word terrorism to the slaughter of the insurgents of 1848 and those of the Commune of 1871; from the colonisation or the deportation of Jews made possible by prior screening and filing to the massacres of Algerian demonstrators in 1961 in the heart of Paris, all French Republics have massacred without counting so that the powerful might continue to dominate and exploit everyone. The French Republic is a mountain of corpses of which the filth that composes the summit has only be able to stay in place by crushing its true enemies, the rebels and revolutionaries who fought for a world of justice and freedom. The “French spirit”, if this enormous stupidity would ever exist, would be a closet filled up until the point of bursting with voices crying for vengeance against the bourgeois, the politicians, the cops, the soldiers and the priests who have trampled them to establish their power.
Ah, but that’s all rubbish from the past, isn’t it? Do the decades of civil participation, commodity integration and generalised dispossessing really made forget those who still preserved a slightest touch of sensibility that firing randomly into the crowd is not an exclusivity of remote terrorists? That since several years the French State is making its great return on the international scene of state terrorism by multiplying its military attacks in the four corners of the globe (Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Central Africa, Iraq, Syria)? The pretext changes each time, but the reasons stay the same: to maintain control of strategic resources, to win new markets and influence zones, to preserve its interests against competitors, to avoid that insurrections are transformed into experiments of freedom. And if it was still needed, warnings have been given also to avert the indolent that this war logic will not know any territorial limit: the death of a demonstrator last year in Sivens or the bodies riddled with shrapnel in Notre-Dame-des-Landes and in Montabot recall that the offensive grenades in khaki do not hesitate, also not here, to be launched against crowds as to sow terror.
Because what else is terrorism than randomly hitting the crowd with the aim of preserving or conquering power? A bit like the rich do by killing and mutilating daily millions of people on the job in name of the money generated by their exploitation. A bit like the industrialists and their white collar lackeys do by poisoning durably all life on earth. A bit like all the States do who lock up behind four walls and slowly torture those excluded from their commodity paradises and those who rebelled against their laws. A bit like the great democracies who turned the Mediterranean Sea into a cemetery of thousands of undesirables who did wrong by not having the right piece of paper in their pockets. But the peace of the State and of capitalism comes at this price. The peace of the powerful is war against the dominated, on the inside as well on the outside of their borders.
The 13th of November 2015 in Paris, the rule of the game has been respected. They may call themselves Islamic or Republican, Caliphate or Democracy, a State is a State: an authoritarian power whose mass violence applies to all those who do not bow for their sovereign order. One of the principles of all States is to only recognize subjects. Subjects who have to obey the laws dictated from above, it is to say, the exact contrary of free individuals who can self-organize without being commanded and without commanders. From the bombardments of Dresden and Hiroshima to the villages of Vietnam wiped out with napalm or the cities of Syria wrecked by barrels of TNT, States never hesitated in their dirty wars to sacrifice a part of their own population, or of their competitors. By randomly killing Parisian passersby to punish their State, the small soldiers of Daech did nothing else but reproducing the implacable logic of their adversaries. A terrible logic, as terrible as any state power can be.
The state of emergency is declared in France since yesterday, a measure of internal war of a government who places the country in conformity with its politics of international terrorism, is just a step further in the basic practices of any government, aiming to forcibly normalize life, to its institution codification, to its technological standardization. Because what is the State seeing when looking to the future? Economical cracks, mass unemployment, exhaustion of resources, international military conflicts, civil wars, ecological disasters, exodus of populations… In short, he see an ever more unstable world where the poor are ever more numerous and concentrated, a world sweating despair which is becoming a gigantic powder keg, engulfed by tensions of all kinds (social, identitarian, religious). A world in which the lighting of the smallest spark, whatever it might be, should not be tolerated by an ever more totalitarian democracy. So, just as “civil” is another word for “cop”, the “war on terrorism” means above all the war against all those who are breaking away from the ranks of power. To all the deserters of social pacification, to all the deserters of the wars between the powerful and the authoritarians, lets sabotage the National Unity…
A bad subject,
enemy of the Republic and of all States
Paris, 14th of November 2015
Pamphlet spread in Paris, originally published on November 15th 2015.
Paris: One step beyond in the systematic chaos
Once again we lack the right words, in the moment when events like these break with our established analytical grids – without giving way to any potentially positive thing for the time to come. In these hours, literature is maybe having a better time in saying something interesting about the subversion of the reference points (it is not by chance that here, in Italy, a writer was able to grasp some basic elements in order to explain what is happening*).
Lucidity is not certainly increased by cynical coolness, therefore we try to start again from the impact – for the time being. We will return later to geopolitical considerations about this act of war. The first sensation to be experienced is that of a deep annihilation: we are thrown off balance by terribly expected events, that are even anticipated in their own way: who did not think even once, in the last 15 years, that this would have been one of the possible outcomes of the asymmetric war? Is there anything easier and, in its own way, effective than to shoot randomly out there – if the cherished effect is the production of a blurred, faceless terror, able to make an individual feel powerless and vulnerable?
More than the ISIS, this attack tells us about the form of life of Capital as the sole really existing human-community, about its tics and obsessions, of its miseries, of ourselves as metropolitan individuals, consumers, of beings that are dispossessed of life and sense. The youngsters that are ready to sacrifice themselves for the Caliphate are the reverse mirror of a nihilism that is structuring everyday life by now, of the suffocation of feelings, of the (missed) imaginaries of a life which is reduced to survival; in the clear disruption with the political history of the recent past, and of their own being situated as social and historical beings.
Let’s start again from here, then. From the need of a common feeling of the ongoing war. To understand that the dead of Paris are a bit more than those caused by the bombs of the Islamic State in Ankara a month and a half ago does not mean to downplay the pain of witnessing some peers of ours dying at a concert that we may have been attending ourselves, too. It means to start to break with the public form of life of the West, which is a deeply cynical and irresponsible one. While a considerable part of the world plunges into political and military chaos, in our context we pretend to live “as if” nothing is going on, as if we were not already inside a war that our governments declared against the 4/5 of the globe (and, without saying that, against us as well). In which warring country, when gunshots are heard on the streets, the first reaction is that of mistaking them for fireworks?
To break with this form of life, to break with the tragedy that the West is, that is – with the tragedy that we are, as someone would say – does not mean to call upon the blaming sadness of the privileged or the dulling penance of the #prayforparis. Anyone who has been a witness in war areas – and not only in the glass of the mainstream televisions – knows how much suffering peoples there elude the stereotype of pathetic passivity, by celebrating good life whenever it is possible. It means that, in our context, we are paying for a political-psychological-cultural naivete which is not only unbearable, but certainly an unsuitable one, in order to catch the stakes of the present and of the immediate future. What does it means to stand for peace today? This is certainly a pressing question today, and it would be deeply wrong to think that it could be answered with a new estrangement, with a revival of the “Not in my name” of the early 2000s. The times are different, as the historical phase and the way of waging war (and we will surely return to this last topic) are.
A common feeling of the ongoing war is due also as a necessary premise in order to understand the lines of the front. To understand where our friends are. The young Kurds – which are often Muslims – that have been fighting the ISIS for two years, while Putin was still diplomatically pondering over the opportunity of a Russian intervention. To understand where their friends are. In those Americans that played financing Sunni fundamentalism for a post-Assad regime change, in Erdogan’s NATO that supplies the Islamic State with weapons, hoping to resolve the Kurdish question in such a way. But also in those who would like to apply the ISIS method in Italy, too: if all the Europeans are culprits in the eyes of these “Islamic bastards”**, then all the Muslim should be considered the same, too, according to them.
Hence, we should/would have enough strength to say that the butchers-assassins that shot at random in Paris are not worse than Hollande, Sarkozy, Obama, Cameron, Renzi… or than those wanton pigs of the Saudi princes – to which our rulers repeatedly bow and scrape to, while the former invest a significant part of their petro-dollars in financing a social reproduction of the Muslim world made strong by obscurantism through madrassahs, Quranic schools and by fostering repeated transnational generational waves of mujaheddins (a good way – for them – to keep busy a potentially unemployed and antagonist youth); that are able today of also drawing from the Europe of the second/third post-colonial generations (and also in tinier shares – but unscrupolously ready-to-go – of white newly converted individuals).
We must start to think our times. We live in a unique global city of which the metropolises of the different continents are nothing more than its different neighbourhoods. Beirut, Paris, Nairobi, Tunis, Ankara are nothing more than suburbs of the same big city; not because the geographical distances are erased by low-cost flights or by the web, but because we are talking here about interconnected productive centers, of hubs of the same process of accumulation and distribution of goods. The price of cigarettes or of the fuel for an outdoor trip, in Europe, are also the product of the bullets that are shot in the Middle East, or of the social choking of millions of Chinese workers. Who bombs the Kurds who fight in Rojava wins the elections thanks to the European funding that comes, in turn, from the coffers of a Commission that taxes – through the states’ budgets – the equivalent of our daily work, already a net of surplus value.
As if there was any need for blood in order to prove once again that the age of innocence for Europe which was built with the EU after WWII has come to an end. It is not Greece that is beyond the corner, it is Syria; and the whole world with it. A world where suffering for the dead can be understandable: but where, above all, it is necessary to organize ourselves. In order not to let the scoundrels on duty to do that, or the adventurers (often being the patrons and sponsors of the former) of a neo-colonialism that wants us to pay the price of its own wars.
Infoaut, November 14, 2015
*A reference to a post by Italian writer Giuseppe Genna
**The headline of the Libero right-wing Italian daily the morning after the Paris attacks
The borders won’t protect you, but they might get you killed
n Paris, on November 13, 129 people were killed in coordinated bombings and shootings for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. Although this is only the latest in a series of such attacks, it has drawn a different sort of attention than the massacres in Suruç and Ankara that killed 135 people. The lives of young activists who support the Kurdish struggle against ISIS—so far the only on-the-ground effort that has blocked the expansion of the Islamic State—are weighed differently than the lives of Western Europeans.
The same goes for the lives of millions who have been killed or forced to flee their homes in Syria. European nationalists lost no time seeking to tie the attacks in Paris to the so-called migrant crisis. British headlines proclaimed “Jihadis sneaked into Europe as fake Syrian refugees,” alleging that a passport found with one of the assailants belonged to a refugee who passed through Greece. These opportunists hope to use the blood still wet on the streets to anoint their project of locking down Fortress Europe.
Ironically, many of the people attempting to enter Europe from the Middle East are fleeing similar attacks orchestrated by ISIS. This is why they have been willing to risk death, crossing border after border to reach an unwelcoming Europe. Cutting off their escape route would trap them in territory controlled by ISIS, arguably increasing the resources of the Islamic State and indisputably exacerbating the frustrations that drive people to cast their lot with Islamic fundamentalism.
Surely this was clear to the people who planned the attacks. It may even have been among their objectives.
There is a chilling symmetry between the agendas of the nationalists of Europe and the fundamentalists of the Islamic State. The nationalists wish to see the world divided into gated communities in which citizenship serves as a sort of caste system; European history shows that in a world thus divided, the ultimate solution to every problem is war. The fundamentalists, for their part, hope to assert Islamic identity as the basis of a global jihad.
In this regard, the only real difference between ISIS and the European nationalists is over whether the criteria for inclusion in the new world order should be citizenship or religion. Both ISIS and the nationalists want to see the conflicts of the 21st century play out between clearly defined peoples governed by rival powers, not between the rulers and the ruled as a whole. Both want to force the refugees to take a side in the war between Western governments and the Islamic State rather than participating in the sort of grassroots social change once promised by the Arab Spring.
Of course, the tightening of Fortress Europe and the next wave of airstrikes will be promoted as a way to keep Europeans safe from foreign barbarians, not a means of escalating global conflict. But can borders protect against attacks like the ones in Paris? Has the War on Terror made the world a safer place?
Let’s go back to September 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda carried out attacks in Manhattan and Washington, DC. In response, then-President George W. Bush committed the United States to military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq intended to “make the world safe for democracy,” rhetoric taken from another President who sought to justify a war to end all wars while demonizing immigrants. One of Bush’s justifications was that by occupying these rogue states, the US military could disable the staging areas from which acts of terrorism were coordinated. The Bush administration was proposing to protect US citizens by means of the same indiscriminate violence that had produced so much resentment against them in the first place.
Anarchists didn’t buy it. In response to the September 11 attacks and the military operations that followed, we blanketed walls across the United States with posters proclaiming Your leaders can’t protect you, but they can get you killed.
As we predicted, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan only destabilized the Middle East, fostering new generations of embittered Islamic fighters. Just as Al-Qaeda was originally funded and trained by the CIA, today ISIS is armed with the very military equipment sent to Iraq to impose US control of the region. As we wrote in 2006 in Rolling Thunder #3 [9MB PDF], the Bush administration could hardly have been more effective at generating Islamic resistance if that had been its explicit goal:
“Mere world domination is no use to a repressive regime. As soon as there are no barbarians at the gates to point to as the greater of two evils, the subjects start getting restless—witness the decade following the fall of the Berlin Wall, when internal resistance grew and grew in the vacuum left by the Communist menace. War-without-end may make people restless, too, but it also keeps them busy reacting to it, if not dying in it, instead of cutting to the root of the matter.
Militant Islam, once a backyard startup company, is finally a global threat, poised to replace the Communist Bloc. Western-style capitalism has extended its influence and control so far that external opposition must now come from previously peripheral corners of the world, such as Afghanistan; a few fanatics from that periphery were enough to inaugurate the new era of Terror-vs.-Democracy back in 2001, but it will take a lot more fanatics to maintain it, and the current US foreign policy will produce them.”
Intensifying security and border controls will only exacerbate the tensions that propel people into the ranks of ISIS from France and Britain as well as in Iraq and Syria. Clamping down the borders around Europe means clamping down on every aspect of life inside them. Special forces have been deployed to back British police; the New York City police commissioner hopes to increase surveillance of communications devices; former French President Sarkozy wants to force everyone suspected of radicalism to wear an electronic tag. This is not just a question of how refugees are treated, but of what life will be like for all of us in an era of ever-increasing state control.
The attacks in Paris are convenient for those who have been struggling to subdue social unrest. When Hillary Clinton says “We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with violent extremism,” the implication is that everyone who stands up for himself against the clampdown will be treated as a violent extremist. In the United States, the National Guard have been deployed three times over the last two years to suppress protests against police murders—it’s not just ISIS killing people. In Europe, where there have been such powerful protests against austerity, 68 anarchists have been arrested on terrorism charges over the past three years—in retaliation for social movement activity, not attacks on civilians.
From Washington, DC and Paris to Raqqa and Mosul, those who hold power have no real solutions for the economic, ecological, and social crises of our time; they are more focused on suppressing the social movements that threaten them. But wherever such movements are crushed, discontent will be channeled into organizations like ISIS that seek to solve their problems through sectarian war rather than collective revolutionary change.
So the clampdown can only make things worse. Tighter border controls won’t protect us from attacks like the one in Paris, though they will go on causing migrant deaths. Airstrikes won’t stop suicide bombers, but they will produce new generations that nurse a grudge against the West. Government surveillance won’t catch every bomb plot, but it will target the social movements that offer an alternative to nationalism and war.
If the proponents of Fortress Europe succeed in suppressing and segregating us, we will surely end up fighting each other: divide and rule. Our only hope is to establish common cause against our rulers, building bridges across the boundaries of citizenship and religion before the whole world is carved up on the butcher’s block of war.
In this context, we can draw inspiration from everyone who has defied the borders over the past few months, demonstrating that these artificial divisions can be overcome. In August, hundreds of people broke across the border from Greece into Macedonia. In September, when trains supposedly bearing migrants through Hungary to the Austrian border arrived instead at an internment camp surrounded by fences and riot police, the migrants locked themselves inside the train, refused food and water, and ultimately broke through the fence, escaping across the fields to the highway. In October, over a hundred people stormed the Eurotunnel between France and London. Just a few weeks ago, thousands of people repeatedly broke through the police cordon separating Slovenia and Austria. In each of these cases, we see people working together to find the vulnerabilities in the walls that partition up humanity. If it weren’t for their efforts, we can be sure that European governments would have done even less to support refugees.
By breaking open the borders and supporting others who break through them, we can show those fleeing Syria—and Mexico, and all the other warzones of the world—that they have comrades on the other side of the fences. This is our best hope to discourage them from giving up on the possibility of joint solidarity and joining groups like ISIS. Likewise, the more we disrupt the security apparatus and the war machine, the less ISIS will be able to appeal to potential converts by pointing to the harm Western governments are inflicting on Muslims around the world. Every time we do this, we seize the initiative to define the essential struggle of our age: not Terrorists vs. Governments, not Islam vs. the West, but all humanity against the structures and ideologies that pit us against each other.
The Real War
What we have undertaken must not be confused with anything else and cannot be limited to the expression of certain ideas or even less to what is rightly considered art.
—-It is necessary to produce and to eat: many things are necessary that are still nothing, and so it is with political agitation.
—-Who imagines, before fighting to the end, leaving one’s place to men one cannot look at without feeling the urge to destroy them? But if nothing could be found beyond political activity, human avidity would only encounter the void.
—- WE ARE FIERCELY RELIGIOUS and, inasmuch as our existence is the condemnation of everything that is recognized today, an inner exigency demands that we be equally imperious.
What we are undertaking is a war.
Georges Bataille, “La conjuration sacrée”, Acéphale #1
Communicators and governing authorities, who can no longer sell the “security” which they are manifestly incapable of delivering to any of their subjects, have thus pounced on the latest Parisian massacres in order to recast their rhetoric. “We are at war,” they tirelessly repeat, with the slight giddiness that always accompanies the manipulation of a new toy.
So they have a rhetorical device they can try out, for sure, but not really use, as Arnauld and Nicole would have said. Because if “we” are at war, then what could be more normal than enemy commandos coming and attacking the country’s cities? What could be more normal than civilians being struck down? What could be more normal than asymmetrical bloodbaths? Isn’t that what “war” is since 1939 and perhaps since 1914? If so, then how can one reproach the enemy for barbarism when he’s only practicing the contemporary art of war – which prescribes, for example, slaughtering a presumed enemy military commander along with his family from a drone, when the occasion presents itself? But more importantly, if in Algeria there had only been “events” such as the bombs at the Milk Bar and La Corniche Casino, which were answered with “police operations” that also involved massacres, bombs, forced relocations, camps, and torture – if these were just “events” and not a war, what does it mean that “war” is spoken of now? It’s a good bet that when poor François Hollande, with his popularity down in the basement, decided to intervene in Mali, then in Iraq, one of his military advisers whispered in his ear, worried: “But Mr. President, you do realize that such an engagement greatly increases the risks of attacks on our soil?” and that our general advisor, in his role as commander-in-chief, gravely and laconically replied: “Oui.” Because the fact is, for a long time antiterrorism has shown its miraculous effects for leaders suffering total discredit and that these days it is preferable to be judged on the basis of one’s enemies rather than on the basis of one’s results.
We’re not sure why, but the massacres claimed by the I.S. seem to have the virtue of triggering bouts of extreme confusion in response, and, for many, unusual crises of hypocrisy. As if the effective reign of hypocrisy in nearly every domain of Western societies could only be countered by an added dose of the same drug – which in the long run will surely lead to a fatal overdose. Thus, it can’t be attributed to a lack of information that a cartoonist in vogue reacted to the attacks with a speech balloon saying: “The people who died this evening were out to enjoy life, to drink and to sing. They didn’t know that someone had declared war on them.” In the age of social networking, one has to be strangely intoxicated to pretend not to know that the French armed forces are projected over a good half-dozen theaters of foreign operations, and that certain interventions, particularly in Mali, in Syria, in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan, have rather incensed certain bombarded minds. We won’t talk here about the militarization of law enforcement, the death of protesters hit by offensive grenades and others blinded in one eye by police flashballs – what would be left of the cartoonist’s comfort if he became aware that every government basically conducts a continuous war for control of its population? And what would be left of his avowed casualness if it occurred to him that his “champagne,” his “joy,” and his “kisses” are somewhat situated sociologically, culturally, ethically – in a word: that his “freedom” is that of the winners? And it needs to be said, all this business about “freedom” that’s been tweeted back and forth and hashed over in articles and speeches for the past three days doesn’t ring at all true. As a matter of fact, it sounds like a crude instance of mutual flattery. Because, to start with, we’re not the first here to defend the ancient thesis that freedom begins with the fact of not fearing death, and in that regard it appears that last Friday’s attackers may have been a bit freer than “we” are. Moreover, because the freedom that one has on the sexual, professional, cultural, or simply social market is so tightly structured by the ferocious competition that prevails there that this freedom could just as well be called “terrible servitude” instead. Lastly, because the freedom of “I do what I like with my hair/ with my ass/with my dick/with my tongue, etc.” looks quite pathetic, really, in the sober light of the morning after. The bourgeois adage which, from the Middle Ages to Michelet, endlessly proclaimed that “city air is liberating” (Stadluft macht frei ) lapsed into uselessness like just about everything else the bourgeoisie invented: work won’t set you free any more either, and hasn’t for a very long time. So on the contrary, the air of the metropolis makes you lonely, connected, depressed, miserable, self-centered, sociable, competitive, hard, opportunistic, fuckable or fucked…whatever, but not free.
The doxa of the moment has it that what came under attack was “our way of life,” as represented on Friday nights by football, trendy bars, and rock concerts – a way of life that’s uninhibited, liberal, libertine, atheist, transgressive, urban, festive, and so forth. This is what France, civilization, democracy, and “values” would be: the possibility of living, without believing in anything, a life after the “death of God,” a life which is precisely what His zealots would like to destroy. The only problem is that all the characterizations given of that “way of life” by so many of its enthusiastic or melancholy believers pretty much coincide with what Western thinkers, recognized in other circumstances as being extraordinarily lucid, have consistently denounced. Read some of the opinion pieces and editorials of the past few days and then have a look at part five of the prologue to Thus Spoke Zarathustra concerning the last men. Consider Bataille’s “Sacred Conspiracy.” Skim through Michelstaedter’s Persuasion and Rhetoric. Read Kojève’s notes on the end of History in his Introduction to the Reading of Hegel:
“In point of fact, the end of human Time or History—that is, the definitive annihilation of Man properly so-called or of the free and historical Individual—means quite simply the cessation of Action in the full sense of the term. Practically, this means: the disappearance of wars and bloody revolutions. And also the disappearance of Philosophy; for since Man himself no longer changes essentially, there is no longer any reason to change the (true) principles which are at the basis of his understanding of the World and of himself. But all the rest can be preserved indefinitely; art, love, play, etc.; in short, everything that makes Man happy (…) If Man becomes an animal again, his arts, his loves, and his play must also become purely ‘natural’ again. Hence it would have to be admitted that after the end of History, men would construct their edifices and works of art as birds build their nests and spiders spin their webs, would perform musical concerts after the fashion of frogs and cicadas, would play like young animals, and would indulge in love like adult beasts. But one cannot then say that all this ‘makes Man happy.’ One would have to say that post-historical animals of the species Homo sapiens (which will live amidst abundance and complete security) will be ‘content’ as a result of their artistic, erotic, and playful behavior, inasmuch as, by definition, they will be contented with it.”
If one wished to be more cruel, and draw from an even more indisputable heritage, one would have to say rather that Friday’s attacks—against a stadium, bistros, a concert venue—were a bloody and pitiless offensive against entertainment, in which case it would be Pascal, no doubt, who would be found in the camp of the “terrorists.”
The stupidest thing to do when something or someone is attacked is to defend them because they are attacked. It’s a well-known Christian vice. It makes little sense to defend “France” – which is what, exactly, “France”? – Paris, the hipsters, football, or rock because they were assaulted. Libération’s front page about the attacks doesn’t erase what was announced initially, which had to do, curiously, with the social and human ulcer that hipsters constitute in the heart of the metropolises, and more particularly in Paris. The kind of emotional coup d’État that attempted, last January, to make Charlie Hebdo into “France” won’t succeed this time in imposing identification with a certain form of metropolitan life. The cognitive-communicational petty bourgeoisie, the party highs, the hit-on and hook-up routine, the hip salary bros, the hedonism of the cool thirty-something, will never manage to pass for “our way of life,” “our values,” or even for “culture.” It’s a certain form of life, like there are so many of in these times, in this country, and which don’t always only inspire good feelings. The instrumentalization of the attacks by certain propagandists in order to ensure the moral hegemony of that particular form of life can only contribute to making it loathsome.
The situation is the following. We are faced with two fundamentalisms: the economic fundamentalism of the governments, be they right-wing, left-wing, extreme right-wing, extreme left-wing – all across the political spectrum there are only believers in economy, calculation, work, measurement, accounting, and social engineering – and the ideological fundamentalism of the partisans of the Caliphate. Neither group is open to discussing the least of its articles of faith, even though their religions are both defunct, surviving only by dint of voluntarism, absurd massacres, endless crises, and therapeutic doggedness. There is an obvious fanaticism in the fact of responding to the crisis of neoliberalism by unleashing it on the world. While few are ready to die for the economy, no one, in the West, has ever had any scruples about killing, or letting die, in its name. Each day of life in France offers sufficient confirmation of that. Moreover, the stupefaction effect produced by Friday’s attacks is due precisely to their spectacularly anti-economic character: is there a more enigmatic, inexplicable act for the rational calculator trying to maximize his usefulness and his satisfaction, than this gang of guys wasting human lives right and left and finally killing themselves – pure human, cultural, social capital, patiently accumulated through daily efforts, having reached the age of its maximum productivity, and sacrificed for nothing, the economist would say, appalled. What have they gained by that? Haven’t they lost everything, for no good reason? Those who speak of the “mystery of terrorism” in this instance neglect to point out that the mystery exists as such only from the point of view of economy. They don’t see that this is done on purpose: the pleasure of the suicidal attacker firing into the crowd lies precisely in bringing the arrogant Western economic creature down to the level of a rat stepping over its moaning fellow creatures to survive, in shattering the superiority of his false transcendence facing the miserable immanence of the struggle for life. If there’s an attack against a certain happiness in what has transpired, it resides both in the massacre and in the reflex, after the carnage, to defend that happiness – for a happiness that needs defending never takes long to become a lie.
May last Friday’s attacks, and those that are bound to follow given the spiral which the governing authorities have deliberately set in motion, make us truer and less distracted, deeper and less hypocritical, more serious and more communist. For us, this is the real war, the one that, in the West, merits the risking of one’s life: the war to have done with economy. But it’s a war, let it be said, that’s not pursued via spectacular massacres, however anti-economic they may be. The warfare in our case is essentially indirect. It is through lived communism that the terrain of economy will be diminished, which doesn’t rule out bold actions when they’re appropriate to the situation. More clearly than ever, the construction of a sensitive communism is the only thing capable of punching through the historical nightmare from which we’re trying to wake up.