Welcome to a site distributing articles attacking the very base of this outrageous society. The contents of this site are grouped into two main categories: Recent (including Local & Global) and Archive (pre-2000) (including Local & Global).
THERE MUST BE SOME KINDA WAY OUTTA HERE... Here we have gathered together and are distributing various writings attacking this society - both by ourselves and also by others that we have some sympathy with. We have no pretension to providing 'authoritative' texts; rather than being the eternally relevant last word on anything, the thoughts presented here - if they are to have any subversive use - can only be a historical reference and partial jumping-off point for the readers' own explorations in theory and practise.
Collective portrait of those who have put this site together...
Where we're coming from......
The 1960s and 70s were high points of class struggle in the UK and elsewhere. The Social Contract, a negotiated compromise between the classes guaranteeing increased productivity in exchange for higher standards of living, could not indefinitely maintain social peace. As the working class gained confidence through struggle, demands and perspectives grew to imply a more general critique of the boredom and alienation of this society, both in its work and its consumerism. The working class appeared to be becoming uncontrollable, as strike waves (mainly wildcats) escaped the control of bosses, union leaders and politicians alike. Struggles outside production in fields such as housing, race and gender occasionally overlapped with workplace agitations. Thatcherism set itself the explicit task of crushing this movement and was remarkably successful - from being "the sick man of Europe" with some of the lowest productivity and highest strike levels the UK was transformed to such an extent that by the 90s strike levels had hit a record low. A restructuring of economic conditions - the creation of the shareholding, stakeholding, property owning, gentrifying society - democratised speculation for the masses and outmaneuvred traditional forms of struggle. The defeat in 1985 of the miners' strike was a turning point - the failure of existing forms of struggle by its most advanced practitioners which signalled the end of the post-war era of labour relations/conflict - and ushered in the bleak social reality of the victorious new economic order.
The totalitarian nature of modern capitalism is not the monolithic authoritarian dictatorship as imagined half a century ago in the "Brave New World" and "1984" novels. It's a far more subtle regime ruled by a bewildering diversity of means penetrating more and more into areas of life previously uncolonised and uncommodified; in the realms of the geographical, sensory, emotional, genetic, etc. It separates people like never before. The technological growth of the capitalist mode of production that fuels these new invasions is an increasing threat to the chances of simple biological survival. This threat to the vast majority of the planet is based also on the increasing destruction of individuality, community and rationality. This so scares people that they can't bear (or bother) to think about it. Yet it's at the back of everyone's mind. Bringing it to the front of their mind - to remind people of the possibility and necessity of revolution - is like talking about intense sex to someone who's long been celibate. Yet if you want to re-discover individuality, community and rationality, if you want to clearly oppose this world, you have to bring these contradictions to the front of your mind, become conscious of them, describe them, analyse them, give them a name. It never goes without saying.
But how many want to look at this, at what is new in this intensified alienation? It's a symptom of this alienation to be indifferent beyond one's own immediate wants and needs increasingly narrowly reduced to only what is immediately approved of by this commodity-defined world - just getting through the day. Questioning this would mean, against virtually all the odds, not just admitting this is hell but finding a way out of it, honestly. This website tentatively tries analysing the enormity we face. It is a small contribution to the desperate efforts being made to fight this increasingly mad world of commodity fetishism and the ruling show that maintains these dangerously crazy contradictions. To analyse the new forms of totalitarianism requires pioneering effort and in these texts we look through some keyholes at modern attitudes, keyholes which hopefully will open onto a clearer view of, and confrontation with, modern totalitarianism. these keyhole fragments of analysis are always open to criticism and to more precise concrete examples by those not into rivalrous attitudes.
But with defeat and retreat there are less and less people who try to look at new developments, both in the ruling show and in the everyday life of those who are forced to endure it and in those visible sparks of opposition to the crap. This includes most of those obsessed with Marxist categories or with the final goal of revolution. Most of them never look at anything new or personal, only with contradictions as general as possible, which makes theory which is also emotional and concrete utterly incomprehensible to them. They are the specialists in interpretation. Whilst dominant society fetishises the particular, these theoreticians fetishise the abstract. What is wrong is not their predictability - some predictable consistency in one's attitude to the world is a healthy quality - but their straight and narrow linear use of radical language to look at everything, symptomatic of a self-satisfied theoretically 'correct' role (in the end they believe that discussion using radical conceptualisations is the revolution, because they believe that words, ideas and analyses, can be definitive, frozen above concrete events, subject only to long term indefinitely delayed consequences which never come and are never made). As we said before, nothing is definitive and if you want to define 'objectively' you can't make progress. Honest revolt and honest critique is always a question of beginning again.
In the past - the 1980s - people said that a new generation was being brought up which had never known a normal life. Today we have the opposite. A new generation is being brought up which has only known a normal life. And normality is social disintegration. In the 80s we knew there was "No Future" outside of a social movement. And this Future is it. Ecological collapse, capitalist wars, suicidal terrorism, mass depression and real opposition portrayed as a hopeless case and hardly ever talked about. The limitations of the little real opposition there is reinforces the madness of the each against all atmosphere. Global recession pushes more and more people into a precarious balancing on the edge of life, which intensified isolation, along with mushrooming increases in illnesses (the physical bodily symptoms of a lack of social resistance) pushes increasing numbers over. This so scares people that they can't bear (or bother?) to think about it. Yet it's there at the back of everyone's mind. But in order to clearly oppose this world you have to bring it to the front of your mind, to become conscious of it, to describe it, to analyse it, to give it a name. It never goes without saying. Yet, in these new movements that have appeared periodically we can see a tentative searching for innovation in tactics and practice.
Areas of life previously relatively undominated (or far less so) by market forces have been intensively colonised; childhood is a good example. The expanded proletarianisation of life as economy is accompanied by the emergence of a petit-bourgeois consciousness as a dominant model of relationships and behaviour - entrepeneurialism (cultural and economic - drugs and housing for example), the gang as the dominant youth social/economic unit, the anxious "narcissistic personality" hungrily consuming and reproducing therapies and "expert" self-help as a compensation for the increased isolation of the social self etc.......
It wasn't always so - this naked vulnerability to the ice cold winds of market "realism". there was a time when revolution appeared to be on the cards. But the counter-revolution ultimately won. It is as important to understand this counter-revolution as a result of this defeat as it was to understand fascism and Stalinism as a result of the defeat of the revolutionary uprisings in Germany, Italy and Russia. since ideas come from practice and are a means towards practice then a comprehension of the effects of this defeat and of what might be a new movement vaguely feeling its precarious way has to be developed. To vaguely assert some optimism is as pointless as crossing your fingers and hoping to win the lottery. Whatever doesn't kill the commodity economy makes it stronger. Defeat has meant that fewer and fewer dared try to struggle out of their narrow lives defended by narrow ideas. The collapse of traditional forms has been accompanied by the collapse of the conscious shared memory of that defeated tradition - we need to look at past flames of opposition to unearth tentatives that should have gone further.
Who remembers the revolutionary critique of art and culture generally now forgotten and abandoned as of no importance? We desperately need to update that critique. We must also look at the the defeat of the traditional combative working class. Brutal and painfully sickening that it was and is, has not, however, meant the end of opposition in the UK - but it has made it marginal. Here we include critiques of Reclaim The Streets and the fuel protests of Autumn 2000. (Despite their weaknesses compared to past struggles, it is in these new movements that have appeared periodically that we can also see a tentative searching for innovation in theory and practise). Who remembers much about the 70s and the '78/'79 Winter of Discontent ? Who also remembers much about the glorious summer of 1981~the riots? What useful reflection has there been on the miners strike (1984-5) the riots of 1985, the Wapping dispute (1986-87), Poll Tax (1990) and various other aspects of class struggle. We are not looking at all this as history safely in the past but as one of the ways of inciting lived history in the future.
As we build this website up we intend to begin again an investigation of the totality of the new and horrendous conditions of an increasingly unimaginable alienation.
We have resorted to cyberspace in presenting our texts simply because we have had no choice. Most bookshops that once stocked our pamphlets have folded succumbing to the relentless assault of grotesque real estate values. Certainly our presentation here has nothing to do with the often senseless arguments between the purists of cyberspace and hard copy (print). It seems obvious that it is better sitting back and reflecting while reading a book or magazine than staring insanely at a screen in an uncomfortable position. Moreover, seeing none of the people who have created this website have any professional status no book company would be prepared to touch us unless we wangled ourselves a few fine sounding letters after our names. For us our only form of "reaching out" communication is either the occasional leaflet or what we have here. Otherwise all our thoughts and ideas would merely remain as talk among ourselves.
Essentially this website is not like a book (something fixed in a form inherited from literature) but a process in motion and though we won't alter original texts from years ago, some of our texts we are presently working on and in need of comment will alter. In our auto-critique of all texts presented here we will be among the first to never spare ourselves!