originally posted on Alienist Manifesto
THE MYTH OF THE ABSENCE OF MYTH
An immense fraud has been perpetuated in contemporary thought, founded on the persuasion that modern life is a malaise – a decadence – produced by an “absence of myth.” It has dwelt in modernity’s shadow from the outset, the most fervent purveyor of its decadence, like a jealous doppelgänger. Yet, far from abolishing myth, modernity is in fact constituted by the greatest myth of all: the myth of perpetual progress; of the extraction & consumption of natural resources without end & the magical transformation of human waste back into nature. This is what the blood-&-soil of the Corporate-State amounts to: the belief that – in greater abundance than the old gods, at the service of individual gratification & without cost to the collective conscience – Capitalism will provide. This mystification of industry (of technology in general), fed by a complete disregard for ecological consequences, has led – with all the negative pathos of a child’s fairytale – straight down the path of catastrophe. Catastrophe on a truly mythic scale. For it is this – & not its absence – that will define every possible human future to come.
IN THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS
This catastrophic myth of the absence of myth is both the brainchild & progenitor of Fascism, born with its tale in its mouth & constantly reborn like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Its resurgence today is a measure of the frenzy of catastrophe that has overtaken the world, summoning the forces of negation to once more dance upon the volcano. If Fascism is the antimodernist myth of modernity cloaked in the ideal primitivism of a world consensually debased & enslaved, NeoFascism dreams of a new garden of earthly delights for the coming singularity & discovers it in the Anthropocene. Shrouded in the spectacle of the Anthropocene, the death throes of this world shall be the cradle of the civilisation-to-come: the “new” resurrection myth. Such antique paradox is the very stuff of Fascism. Its technomystical ideologues juggle illusion & disillusionment like Maxwell’s demon turning pure entropy into a saleable ideological commodity. It feeds order from disorder, appeals simultaneously to the masses & to a conscientious elitism, calls to action in producing stagnation, raises heroism upon the pedestal of its corruption, infuses ambiguity with a radical purposefulness. Crisis is thus both the medium & the essential overplus of Fascist thought. It is the revolutionary impetus of a longing for an “end to alienation,” of the “chaos of the soul,” & for the destruction of the existing order so that the “eternal verities” of race / nation / religion / etcetera may triumph. Yet it is also the very condition of a revolutionary inertia that vainly conceals itself in a reflex to reactionary self-preservation. The danger of Fascism stems precisely from this sublimation of its own impulse to disillusionment.
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
Fascism, it has been written, “is like a completely successful operation: the patient dies & all the illusions are removed” (Angelo Tasca). Yet if we are to evaluate the general orientation of the NeoFascist system (however contradictory it may appear), it is first of all necessary to determine its relation to those external forces that nominally oppose it, in order to understand how its operations have succeeded in a classic negation-of-negation, resurrecting itself from the dead social body of a liberal humanism that was supposed – in the wake of Nuremberg – to have supplanted it. How it has succeeded, in effect, in enlisting liberalism to do its dirty work for it, by increasingly shrill calls-to-order & the seemingly inevitable spiral into “police sadism, envy, servility towards power, the pitiable joy of everything strong” (Merleau-Ponty). An inevitability abetted by liberalism’s exclusion of the revolutionary hypothesis & by the Realpolitikdisguised behind the “purity” of liberal principles. From here it is only a step away to the acknowledgement that “liberty is nothing more than a cruel god demanding its hecatombs.”
VIOLENCE IS POLITICAL ONTOLOGY
Just as populism has always had a powerful counterrevolutionary appeal, so the “purity of principles” not only tolerates, but requires violence. Contrary to appearances, the Anthropocene does not herald a “return of the Real” in confrontation with the “metaphysics” of commodity capitalism. Nor is it the case that politics holds a monopoly over the translation of ideology into the “order of facts.” The opposition-of-convenience between political realism & liberal values, in which a means-ends rationality serves merely as an alibi for the lack of a real stratagem, is not only a mystification but antithetical to a revolutionary standpoint. Reactionary violence intercedes wherever the “purity of principles” fails to animate political action & whenever political action fails, on an ideological plane, to transcend the world. If the value of society is the value it places on social relations, then it is necessary to grasp ideology’s function in producing the social reality of those values. In other words, it is necessary to grasp that the political “triumph” of NeoFascism – wherever it occurs – always rests upon a socialisation of reactionary violence that arises not from the “purity” or abstract rationalism of its “principles,” but from their failure.
THE ODIOUS DEBT OF THE BURDEN-OF-PROOF
If the accumulation of facts delineating the Anthropocene demands immediate action, this cannot meaningfully be in the form of an application of pure principles to an abstract “environmental” problem. Yet protest by itself amounts to nothing more than this. Exchanging the “mute violence” of liberal democracy for real combat, protest is reduced to an alibi, a surrogacy for a stillborn idea. Protest that renounces the necessity of its own violence will always fail so long as it remains merely the counterpart of a legally-sanctioned debauchery on a planetary scale. Protest by itself is capable of nothing more than affirming the illusion of due process from which the Corporate-State’s programme of exploitation, neo-colonial war, & the suppression of dissent, obtains its veneer of legitimacy in the first place. It is no accident that the most decisive platform for the advancement of Fascism is that which has consistently been provided by liberal democracy itself. This is not a symptom of a decadence of democratic values, rather it is a consequence of the fact that at the very heart of democracy’s failure to reconcile a purity of principles with political action there resides a Fascist demon. To remain absorbed in protest is to capitulate in advance to that demon; to advance into direct action is to engage the demon in a combat without illusions.
THE END DRAGS ON BUT WE MUST LIVE THROUGH IT
What in politics, in art, risks itself in the ultimate degree? The slogan of a worldwide protest movement proclaims: REBEL FOR LIFE! Yet as long as protest itself remains invested in a “democratic system” that serves the interests of the Corporate-State, it will remain an exercise in mass disillusionment. As long as protest continues to be mystified by the notion of a benevolent power that can be persuaded (by fantastical appeals to its “self-interest”) to relinquish the very means of perpetuating itself, it condemns itself to an early grave. The Extinction Rebellion movement (XR) has issued three demands to governments: 1. tell the truth, 2. reduce carbon emissions, 3. establish a citizens’ assembly to direct policy on combating climate change. But there needs to be a fourth demand, addressed to itself. If time is truly running out, if ultimatums pass (like ships in the night), if the world itself is in the balance, all pretence to “civil” disobedience must end. We have all seen the ridiculous spectacle society makes of itself whenever it seeks Big Daddy’s approbation & the grotesque mask power wears whenever it wants to put us to sleep. It is time to dispense with this demoralising charade & remove the logistical means of the Corporate-State to continue prosecuting its War on Existence.
THE ROMANCE OF DEFEAT IS WRITTEN BY THE VICTOR
All that was achieved by the recent occupation of Parliament Square in London, was to reinforce the division of symbolic power: an imaginary line none dared cross, with Westminster on one side & a samba band on the other. The empty Houses of Parliament – abandoned for that festival of mock death & resurrection by which children & idiots are indoctrinated in a belief in miracles – has for weeks had no legislative schedule at all, having been reduced to the ad nauseam monomania of that supreme monument to parliamentary cretinism, lies, fraud & dirty money otherwise called Brexit. Real power was always elsewhere in any case. A more pointless entreaty for global action can hardly be imagined, unless it were to pray to the sky. The police were charitably mobilised so as to allow the protestors a modicum of dignity in the face of defeat. A defeat, moreover, shrouded in fatalism from the very outset. If the strategy had been to perpetrate a DDoS attack on the judicial infrastructure simply by provoking mass arrests – or to secure a public jury trial (& therefore a “platform”) by crossing a minimum threshold of property damage – then the tacticians of XR have made a zero-sum game out of pure romanticism. They have mistaken the spectacle of capitulation with a positional advantage, as if “moving into a negotiation phase” were a great victory. Yet all this spectacularism amounts to is a programme of self-martyrisation, squandering the popular base they have sought to attract & which they must maintain in order to evolve into an effective eco-guerrilla movement. Yet unless it seizes the initiative by more incisive means – & renounces the policy of entering “negotiations” from a position of weakness – XR will have been nothing but an advertisement for yet another dead end.
THE RETURN OF THE GUILTY CONSCIENCE
The effort to form a popular front to combat climate change, informed by a spirit of compromise, cannot avoid being held captive by a trust in the principled use of power – a trust that has rarely been repaid in any but the most cynical, opportunistic way. Yet it is to the Corporate-State that such an appeal is still being made – not only to implement “reforms” across the entirety of its infrastructure (in order to meet the latest targets for global carbon-emissions reduction), but to provide the vastly complex logistical means of verifying & regulating those reforms. The institutional inertia that weighs impossibly against this scenario is not, however, what ultimately stands in the way of effectively addressing the “problem” of the Anthropocene – as if it were simply an object that some future technology could magically remove. This inertia is the Anthropocene. It’s for this reason, & not a “purity of principles,” that the socalled spirit of compromise is ultimately at odds with the task required to meet the existential challenge posed by the Anthropocene in all its facets. Yet while the attitude of compromise is – not only in principle – antithetical to a revolutionary standpoint, no less antithetical is the naïve equation of Fascism simply with the unprincipled use of power. As if power itself were not the real problem. As if there were not in fact a fundamental relation between certain Fascist characteristics of the principle of power as such & the logic of the Anthropocene.
DEPROGRAMMING THE IMPOSSIBLE
We must avoid reducing the meaning of Fascism to a mere disparaging terminology, to be freely circulated in everyday vocabulary as the name of something that merely incurs the displeasure of the hurler of the epithet. Fascism is the violence of totalisation & the totalisation of violence. It is the negation that advances all the more aggressively with the approach of every future that has been imagined without it. It is the spectre of catastrophe breeding a cult of planetary death. It is the unavoidable adversary. And this, too, should serve as a salient reminder, that the revolutionary task as it arises in confrontation with the Anthropocene is not the seizing of power. Nor is the task to seize the means of production of the Corporate-State – so as merely to reconstitute it under a constellation of benevolence. The task itself is inseparable from its objective & cannot be rationalised in the abstract (where anything may be justified “if it brings the proletariat to power,” etc., & “for that end alone”). What is at stake, rather, is the seizure of the capacity for initiative. And for the continuity of initiative. To render inoperative the totalising system of the Anthropocene & the totalitarian violence of its means of self-resurrection.
“EASTER,” APRIL 2019