The anarchy of beauty: Annie Le Brun


There is no very evident use in beauty; the necessity of it for cultural purposes is not apparent, and yet civilization could not do without it. The science of aesthetics investigates the conditions in which things are regarded as beautiful; it can give no explanation of the nature or origin of beauty: as usual, its lack of results is concealed under a flood of resounding and meaningless words.

Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents


beauty is a defiance of authority

William Carlos Williams, Paterson


La beauté sera CONVULSIVE ou ne sera pas.

André Breton, Nadja


Le silence des choses est celui d’une poudrière qui n’attend que sa mise à feu.

Annie Le Brun, De l’Éperdu


Seule la révolte est garante de la cohérence passionnelle que chacun est aujourd’hui sommé d’abandonner pour faire allégeance à ce monde de la servitude volontaire.

Annie Le Brun, Interview: Philosophie magazine (29/01/2009)


Annie Le Brun, poet and essayist, remains forever dissonant and dissident; an author and a person who refuses to accept and adapt to the violent reign of commodity fetishism, against which she hurls the rage and passion of gestures of poetry, dreams, desires, love and beauty.

We share below, almost as a long overdue tribute to her work, a recent text which serves as an introduction to her last essay, Ce qui n’a pas de prix. Beauté, laideur et politique.

What follows is a translation from the french language edition of Le monde diplomatique.

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The rebel as passer-smuggler: A footballers’ lesson

pasador, ra
1. adj. Que pasa de una parte a otra.
2. adj.Dicho de una persona: Que pasa contrabando de un país a otro.

Playing with the polysemy of the spanish word “pasador”, Amador Fernández-Savater offers us the picture of the rebel as a point of passage, analogous to the gesture of a footballer whose principal task is to receive-pass the ball, in a constant gesture of creation, or of the smuggler, who in carrying others/other things across borders, makes life possible beyond borders.

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Love and revolution: A film by Yannis Youlountas

We share below Yannis Youlountas most recent documentary film-testimony of struggles for autonomy in greece.  In letting those who are directly engaged in these struggles speak for themselves, his work offers a glimpse of what served as a title for an earlier film: “I struggle therefore I am”.

(The version of the film currently available online is provided with french subtitles.  We await an english subtitled version).

We also add below a two part interview with Yannis Youlountas with Alternative Libertaire of france (also in french).

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Nicaragua: A rebellion at a crossroads

The Crimethinc collective continues to provide a precious window on events in nicaragua, for english speakers.  We share below there latest article-report on the nicaraguan rebellion …

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Terror’s Atomization of Man: Leo Löwenthal

Horror and fears contain us in a world that we do not want, and impede us from acceding to interruptive encounters that regenerate our existence.  To participate in the exercise of clearing obstructions means first to not offer up our fear to those who produce and administer the horror – they do not merit our fear.  Then, it is useful to map the sites where the impossible can come to meet us, to trace the geopolitical and the geopsychic map of the impossible.  Lastly, let us imagine collectively situations in which we could say “The wonder!  The wonder!”, as if these were our first words.

Frédéric Neyrat, Échapper à l’horreur

An illusion may haunt anti-fascism, the belief that fascism is a distinctive form of political organisation mobilised to attack “liberal democracy”.

The illusion is sustained by the false assumption that modern “democracy” and fascism are qualitatively distinct regimes of power, when they are but modulations of one and the same type of power; a power with plural, overlapping and mutually-sustaining centres, that discipline and mould subjectivities, manage life and apportion death.

Leo Löwenthal, a perhaps lesser known figure of the Frankfurt School, engages with the issue directly in an excellent 1946 essay entitled “Terror’s Atomization of Man”.  As one reads the essay, passing through the analysis of the destruction of the “individual” to its social consequences, it is impossible not to read from it insights into our present, to then be taken to the essay’s central thesis, the horror that Löwenthal called “Terror”:

Mankind today has so tremendously improved its technology as to render itself largely superfluous. Modern machinery and methods of organization have made it possible for a relatively small minority of managers, technicians and skilled workers to keep the whole industrial apparatus going. Society has reached the stage of potential mass unemployment; and mass employment is increasingly a manipulated product of the state and state-like powers which channelize surplus mankind into public works, including armies and official or semi-official political organizations, in order to keep it at once alive and under control.

This is to say that large masses of workers have lost all creative relation to the productive process. They live in a social and economic vacuum. Their dilemma is the pre-condition of terror. It provides the totalitarian forces with a road to power and an object for its exercise. For them, terror is the institutionalized administration of large strata of mankind as surplus.*

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Brazil’s undeclared war against dissidence

The State’s repression of dissent continues apace in brazil, this time targeting those who protested against the 2014 FIFA world cup of football.  This is but an episode, however, one more, in a politics that no longer hides behind any pretense of “democratic legitimacy”.  Since the popular uprising of 2013, the state of exception is the new norm against all social protest.  It has been said that what brazilians are living is “low-intensity civil war”, with more violent deaths per year at the hands of State authorities than in than those who have been killed in the syrian civil war, during the same period.  The only response possible must be equally exceptional. 

We share below an article from the Crimethinc. collective …

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Viva Bresci!

Remembering Gaetano Bresci, with the Crimethinc. collective …

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The subjects of capital: A critique of narcissism

Capitalism produces human subjectivities, as it produces commodities.  Without this capacity, its underlying social relations would be unsustainable.

Motivated by our own reflections, we share below an essay that was recently posted on the french based palim-psao website (a site dedicated to the diffusion of Krisis goup texts in various languages), that critically addresses the narcissistic subject of contemporary capitalism.

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Notes from underground: Dostoyevsky’s anarchism

“What is hell?”  And I am reasoning thus: “The suffering that comes from the consciousness that one is no longer able to love.”

Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


“It is life, life that matters, life alone – the continuous and everlasting process of discovering it – and not the discovery itself.”

Dostoyevsky, The Idiot


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in a letter speaking of his The Brothers Karamazov, declares that his principal aim in writing the novel, a civic duty no less, is the defeat of “anarchism”.

How can we then suggest to speak of Dostoyevsky’s anarchism?  And yet we dare to do so, navigating our way through the extremes of the underground and the modern social conformity of the many, of the nihilists and decadent aristocrats, of the social reformers and a Church oblivious to the kingdom of heaven.  Our journey’s end is to be found in the many voices of Dostoyevsky’s world, in a polyphony that cannot be silenced without impoverishing that world.  Among these many voices, we find the braying of mules, the tortured crying of children, the virtue of women and friends, the dissonance of idiots and the enthusiasm of those who have experienced, however fleetingly, the immensity and self-sufficient beauty and goodness of life.  What binds all of these disparate voices together, and only this power or force can do so, is love.  And it is Dostoyevsky’s boundless love of life that we will risk to call his anarchism.

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Beyond Negativity: What Comes After Gender Nihilism? – Alyson Escalante

(photographs by Mike Disfarmer)


Subvert the social and civil order! Aye, I would destroy, to the last vestige, this mockery of order, this travesty upon justice!

Break up the home? Yes, every home that rests on slavery! Every marriage that represents the sale and transfer of the individuality of one of its parties to the other! Every institution, social or civil, that stands between man and his right; every tie that renders one a master, another a serf; every law, every statute, every be-it-enacted that represents tyranny; everything you call American privilege that can only exist at the expense of international right. Now cry out, “Nihilist-disintegrationist !” Say that I would isolate humanity, reduce society to its elemental state, make men savage! It is not true. But rather than see this devastating, cankering, enslaving system you call social order go on, rather than help to keep alive the accursed institutions of Authority, I would help to reduce every fabric in the social structure to its native element.

Voltairine de Cleyre


If gender-sex-sexuality are constructed in the everyday and violent reproduction of patriarchal societies, then the multiple, overlapping and opposing identities which configure them play a structuring role in the forms of domination that define such societies.

Against such domination, affirmations of marginal and repressed identities, calls for their recognition by public and/or private authorities, may serve to lessen existing types of social control.  Yet, this same recognition requires that identifications, formally excluded, be legally and socially admitted, which in turn depend on “official” sanction, surveillance, protection, all carried out by means of apparatuses of control functioning at all levels of society.  Systems of control shift, continuously, to accommodate, integrate and contribute to produce new subject-subjectivities.

In other words, without critically engaging with questions such as, “recognition by whom or what?”, “what is to be recognised?”, “in what context?”, “in whose interest?”, “for what purpose?”, then the demand for recognition is not only politically empty, but politically dangerous, for identity classifications are essential to at least all modern forms of domination.  To be recognised may create spaces of freedom hitherto non-existent, but such freedom can never be uncritically assumed (consider the much vaunted free market).  And where formerly invisibility was perceived as the problem, visibility may render the techniques of social control all that much more effective.

A more radical challenge to patriarchy may lie then in the refusal and sabotage of the gender-sex-sexuality categories that sustain it.  Alyson Escalante defended such a position in an essay-manifesto that we have formally shared entitled Gender Nihilism: An Anti-Manifesto.

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