Endgame Strategies

The Endgame Strategist

Reflections on the revolutionary spirit (from Adbusters issue #82).


The defining problem of modern industrial society is not injustice but alienation. The central task of progressive politics today is to achieve not equality, but liberation.

Clive Hamilton


“We must beware of those who decry the visible forms of violence such as terrorism while perpetrating the invisible, systemic forms of violence that generate the very phenomena they abhor.”

This is the starting point for Slavoj Žižek’s recently published Violence, a collection of revolutionary reflections in which he draws two conclusions of particular interest to future activists and culture jammers. First, it is “difficult to be really violent, to perform an act that violently disturbs the basic parameters of social life.” Most attempts at revolutionary violence, whether left or right, fail to target the basic social structures underlying the systemic violence, which revolutionary forces strive to overcome. Žižek further concludes that sometimes doing nothing is in itself an act of violence capable of toppling those oppressive social structures. He ends the book leaving us with this revolutionary imperative:

“The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to ‘be active,’ to ‘participate,’ to mask the nothingness of what goes on. People intervene all the time to ‘do something;’ academics participate in meaningless debates and so on. The truly difficult thing is to step back, to withdraw. Those in power often prefer even a ‘critical’ participation, a dialogue, to silence – just to engage us in ‘dialogue,’ to make sure our ominous passivity is broken. The voters’ abstention is thus a true political act: it forcefully confronts us with the vacuity of today’s democracies. If one means by violence a radical upheaval of the basic social relation then, crazy and tasteless as it may sound, the problem with historical monsters who slaughtered millions was that they were not violent enough. Sometimes doing nothing is the most violent thing to do.”

Micah White


Resistance begins by occupying and controlling the terrain upon which one stands, where one lives, works, acts and thinks. This needn’t involve millions of people. It needn’t even involve thousands. It could involve just a few at first. Resistance can be intimate and can begin in small affinity groups. The art of politics consists in weaving such cells of resistance together into a common front, a shared political subjectivity. What is going to allow for the formation of such a political subjectivity – the hegemonic glue, if you will – is an appeal to universality, whether the demand for political representation, equality of treatment or whatever.

Anarchy should not seek to mirror the archaic sovereignty that it undermines. That is, it should not seek to set itself up as the new hegemonic principle of political organization, but remain the negation of totality and not the affirmation of a new totality. Anarchy is a radical disturbance of the state, a disruption of the state’s attempt to set itself up or erect itself into a whole. In our terms, anarchy is the creation of interstitial distance within the state, the continual questioning from below of any attempt to establish order from above.

From Simon Critchley’s Infinitely Demanding


Because revolution in our culture has always represented an attack on hierarchy, it has always meant upheaval – literally a heaving up from below. But upheaval has no role to play in moving beyond civilization. If the plane is in trouble, you don’t shoot the pilot, you grab a parachute and jump. To overthrow hierarchy is pointless, we just want to leave it behind.

As everyone knows (especially revolutionaries), hierarchy maintains formidable defenses against attack from the lower orders. It has none, however, against abandonment. This is in part because it can imagine revolution, but it can’t imagine abandonment, it couldn’t defend against it, because abandonment isn’t an attack, it’s just a discontinuance of support.

But won’t the powers that be try to prevent people from doing nothing? I can imagine them trying (but I honestly need help imagining them succeeding).

From Daniel Quinn’s Beyond Civilization

36 comments on the article “The Endgame Strategist”

Displaying 21 - 30 of 36

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akston

Isn't that called, simply, a 'strike'? Perhaps what's needed is The Strike - wherein our heroes - that's you - refuse to countenance or sanction the use of force or fraud in their personal dealings, or to support others in same. If you're working as a cog in an arms factory, find your exit strategy. As the article above suggests, the culture needs rationality rather than rationalization.

akston

Isn't that called, simply, a 'strike'? Perhaps what's needed is The Strike - wherein our heroes - that's you - refuse to countenance or sanction the use of force or fraud in their personal dealings, or to support others in same. If you're working as a cog in an arms factory, find your exit strategy. As the article above suggests, the culture needs rationality rather than rationalization.

Anonymous

The only revolution that is necessary is internal. Perceptual. Robert Anton Wilson called them "reality tunnels" the simple models of the world we all generate from the raw data collected by our senses, and fashioned by the brain and our dna into as coherent a model of the world. In reality the universe just seems to be a sea of energy fields of varying densities and consistencies. Recognizing that our model of the world is not the world itself is the first realization. As Socrates realized "I am the wisest man in the world because I am the only one who recognizes that I know nothing" From there we can extrapolate that social systems do not exist. The state, the corporation, these are just collectives of people participating in a shared fantasy. Reality tunnels bundled together into ideologies, shared models of how the world "ought" to be. The realization is Anarchy, the impossibly complex order of the natural world. The harmonious order that formed energy into matter, matter into proteins, proteins into animals, and animals into human beings. Nothing is artificial, nothing is illegitimate, everything is merely what we interpret it to be. When you realize that trying to control the system is a ludicrous task, you will be as free as you can be.

Anonymous

The only revolution that is necessary is internal. Perceptual. Robert Anton Wilson called them "reality tunnels" the simple models of the world we all generate from the raw data collected by our senses, and fashioned by the brain and our dna into as coherent a model of the world. In reality the universe just seems to be a sea of energy fields of varying densities and consistencies. Recognizing that our model of the world is not the world itself is the first realization. As Socrates realized "I am the wisest man in the world because I am the only one who recognizes that I know nothing" From there we can extrapolate that social systems do not exist. The state, the corporation, these are just collectives of people participating in a shared fantasy. Reality tunnels bundled together into ideologies, shared models of how the world "ought" to be. The realization is Anarchy, the impossibly complex order of the natural world. The harmonious order that formed energy into matter, matter into proteins, proteins into animals, and animals into human beings. Nothing is artificial, nothing is illegitimate, everything is merely what we interpret it to be. When you realize that trying to control the system is a ludicrous task, you will be as free as you can be.

Irked History S...

I posted this over on "Where Do You Stand On Cuba?" but I'm going to do it again here because its relevant and this issue also referenced Patrick henry's " Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech One of my “buttons” that this and anyone else that refers to the “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech, hit is just how little we all know about Patrick Henry. he’s lauded by libertarians and americans as starting the civil war, and how he has been preserved in American history as the greatest advocate of liberty and freedom. Truly a hero of the revolution of 1776. Little known fact people: Patrick Henry was a slaveholder, a violent and brutal one at that. When it came time to sign the US Constitution he refused to sign it because his home state of Virginia and the rest of the American South might have the slightest possibility of losing their institution of Slavery to the majority of americans who were starting to think Slavery was wrong. He publicly denounced any thing to do with the Constitution because it might deprive him of his own personal “liberty’ to own slaves. He continually yelled out that the Federal government had no business interfering with his plantation and his enslaved African Americans. So lets rectify this, Patrick Henry, you weren’t a true hero, and you can’t continue to be remembered as the defender of liberty when he was nothing more than an irked Slave holder who considered himself in bondage to the British because he had to pay taxes without a representative governement. Robin Einhorn has written an Article on this whole issue: “Patrick Henry’s Case Against the Constitution: The Structural Problem With Slavery,” Journal of the Early Republic 22 (2002) -end rant-

Irked History S...

I posted this over on "Where Do You Stand On Cuba?" but I'm going to do it again here because its relevant and this issue also referenced Patrick henry's " Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech One of my “buttons” that this and anyone else that refers to the “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech, hit is just how little we all know about Patrick Henry. he’s lauded by libertarians and americans as starting the civil war, and how he has been preserved in American history as the greatest advocate of liberty and freedom. Truly a hero of the revolution of 1776. Little known fact people: Patrick Henry was a slaveholder, a violent and brutal one at that. When it came time to sign the US Constitution he refused to sign it because his home state of Virginia and the rest of the American South might have the slightest possibility of losing their institution of Slavery to the majority of americans who were starting to think Slavery was wrong. He publicly denounced any thing to do with the Constitution because it might deprive him of his own personal “liberty’ to own slaves. He continually yelled out that the Federal government had no business interfering with his plantation and his enslaved African Americans. So lets rectify this, Patrick Henry, you weren’t a true hero, and you can’t continue to be remembered as the defender of liberty when he was nothing more than an irked Slave holder who considered himself in bondage to the British because he had to pay taxes without a representative governement. Robin Einhorn has written an Article on this whole issue: “Patrick Henry’s Case Against the Constitution: The Structural Problem With Slavery,” Journal of the Early Republic 22 (2002) -end rant-

Anonymous

i second the above writer's recommendation of Derrick Jensen as a contributor to future issues. to be honest, i thought of him first when i saw the title of this issue, and was disappointed to seem him overlooked or perhaps ignored. his 'Endgame' is the most compelling and provocative book i have read in years. perhaps it is also a bit too controversial & scary for adbusters? peace, D

Anonymous

i second the above writer's recommendation of Derrick Jensen as a contributor to future issues. to be honest, i thought of him first when i saw the title of this issue, and was disappointed to seem him overlooked or perhaps ignored. his 'Endgame' is the most compelling and provocative book i have read in years. perhaps it is also a bit too controversial & scary for adbusters? peace, D

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