I find it strange that people like Glenn Beck are so in fear of this book; it seems pretty clear that it was written by a bunch of dreamers, the sort of people who are more waiting for an insurrection to happen than to be the actual people to spark it. They seem to be calling for revolution, but aside from a topical understanding of the matter, don’t really provide any real ‘advice’ for the would be anarchist in us all; they cite a bunch of ‘revolutions’ that have occurred over the course of recent history, and also mention dates concerning America’s creation, but never explain their significance in the context of the manifesto.
I think the second half of this book reads like an instruction manual to a really bad board game with the same title.
Judging from the size of the actual book in the picture, it looks like it would make a good stocking-stuffer, though it will probably be that item, like a tickle-me-Elmo, that could be huge this Christmas, only to be forgotten and maybe joked about in Christmases to come.
I think the only thing you can get out of this book is a thirst for mindless destruction. I’m all for revolution and change but not if it doesn’t lead anywhere.
There are certainly some very elegantly written passages:
““I AM WHAT I AM,” then, is not simply a lie, a simple advertising campaign, but a military campaign, a war cry directed against everything that exists between beings, against everything that circulates indistinctly, everything that invisibly links them, everything that prevents complete desolation, against everything that makes us exist, and ensures that the whole world doesn’t everywhere have the look and feel of a highway, an amusement park or a new town: pure boredom, passionless but well- ordered, empty, frozen space, where nothing moves apart from registered bodies, molecular automobiles, and ideal commodities.”
I feel like this book could be the new bible for college kids who think anarchy is cool, men or women who have cut themselves off from ‘normal’ human interaction who live in cabins in the woods plotting domestic terrorism attacks, and people in general who think the end of the world is coming. This is a fairly sensational book and if read by the right people, it will most likely cause some ‘events’ to happen I’d rather not speculate on, but let’s just say random shootings and bombings with no real reason, etc.
I think this book is written by the Invisible Committee so no one can be held accountable for the actions extremists will take as a result of reading it. Actually, I think I am beginning to understand why people like Glenn Beck are afraid of this book.
The Coming Insurrection attempts to put order where none can be placed. It calls for anarchy in a worsening world state, to undo the current political systems in place. I would say the authors of this book are heavily influenced by communism.
The second half of the book calls for communal living, stating that insurrection will begin once we become self-sufficient in governing ourselves and growing our own food and learning our own skills, etc. While it is true we should all learn to live with less, it seems highly unlikely that a revolution will occur from the planning of a ‘network of communes.’ Picture any police officer you’ve ever met squaring off against any hippie living in a commune (even one of those rare weight lifting hippies who may have some bulk to him); 99 times out of 100, random police officer stomps communal hippie’s face in. While saying ‘hippie’ is a bit of a loaded term and perhaps unfair, feel free to replace it with ‘college student’ if you like. ‘Freedom fighter’ is a bit too ideal; I can’t imagine there actually being any virtuous ‘freedom fighters’ left out there anymore, the very forces they seem to be fighting against seems so rotten that there’s no way the ‘freedom fighters’ are not rotten themselves. The lines of morality are too blurred for there to be any actual good guys or bad, any genuine people in general.
Nice passage about ‘capitalist environmentalism’:
“Managing the phasing out of nuclear power, excess CO2 in the atmosphere, melting
glaciers, hurricanes, epidemics, global over-population, erosion of the soil, mass extinction of living species… this will be our burden. They tell us, “everyone must do their part,” if we want to save our beautiful model of civilization. We have to consume a little less in order to be able to keep consuming. We have to produce organically in order to keep producing. We have to control ourselves in order to go on controlling. This is the logic of a world straining to maintain itself whilst giving itself an air of historical rupture. This is how they would like to convince us to participate in the great industrial challenges of this century. And in our bewilderment we’re ready to leap into the arms of the very same ones who presided over the devastation, in the hope that they will get us out of it.”
The book has an air of being dictated from a standpoint of not really knowing anything about being an actual revolution and what the implications of one might actually entail. Until we’re on the brink of one anywhere in the world, I don’t think we can really have an understanding of what they actually are. A true revolution seems more spontaneous than anything else, it just kind of happens with no real forethought, two people see the same injustice and suddenly find themselves railing against it.
A true revolution would be one in which we constantly questioned and redefined our values, one in which we were more active participants in our local communities and contributed our time and skill, where we had an effect on the lives closest to us, to the actual people around us, where we actually did things with our hands and minds, rather than write shitty pamphlets about anarchy and get conservative television personalities to cause a stir about them just like the latest buzz band of the month.
I enjoyed reading The Coming Insurrection but it didn’t really tell me anything I don’t already know. Of course there are problems in the world that need fixing. Of course people are depressed and Western culture has something to do with it. Of course there are injustices everywhere and all around us, and this book certainly discusses modern malaise elegantly, but as far as detailing any sort of solution to the problems of the day, or providing a detailed description of how to actually revolt, this book isn’t really telling any thinking person what they don’t already feel and know.
Here’s a passage I really enjoyed regarding work:
“The order of work was the order of a world. The evidence of its ruin is paralyzing to those who dread what will come after. Today work is tied less to the economic necessity of producing goods than to the political necessity of producing producers and consumers, and of preserving by any means necessary the order of work. Producing oneself is becoming the dominant occupation of a society where production no longer has an object: like a carpenter who’s been evicted from his shop and in desperation sets about hammering and sawing himself. All these young people smiling for their job interviews, who have their teeth whitened to give them an edge, who go to nightclubs to boost the company spirit, who learn English to advance their careers, who get divorced or married to move up the ladder, who take courses in leadership or practice “self-improvement” in order to better “manage conflicts” – “the most intimate ‘self-improvement’”, says one guru, “will lead to increased emotional stability, to smoother and more open relationships, to sharper intellectual focus, and therefore to abetter economic performance.” This swarming little crowd that waits impatiently to be hired while doing whatever it can to seem natural is the result of an attempt to rescue the order of work through an ethos of mobility. To be mobilized is to relate to work not as an activity but as a possibility. If the unemployed person removes his piercings, goes to the barber and keeps himself busy with “projects,” if he really works on his “employability,” as they say, it’s because this is how he demonstrates his mobility. Mobility is this slight detachment from the self, this minimal disconnection from what constitutes us, this condition of strangeness whereby the self can now be taken up as an object of work, and it now becomes possible to sell oneself rather than one’s labor power, to be remunerated not for what one does but for what one is, for our exquisite mastery of social codes, for our relational talents, for our smile and our way of presenting ourselves. This is the new standard of socialization. Mobility brings about a fusion of the two contradictory poles of work: here we participate in our own exploitation, and all participation is exploited. Ideally, you are yourself a little business, your own boss, your own product. Whether one is working or not, it’s a question of generating contacts, abilities, networking, in short: “human capital.” The planetary injunction to mobilize at the slightest pretext – cancer, “terrorism,” an earthquake, the homeless – sums up the reigning powers’ determination to maintain the reign of work beyond its physical disappearance.”
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