Our generation is giving birth to a new era. Call it the collapse of imperialism or anything you see. A whole new phase of thinking promises to provide us with a new life. Artists must stop looking at only themselves as artists. All humans create. We call paintings, sculptures, music, architecture, dance, theater, literature and so on art. Humans have developed those techniques and they are creative. The limitation of all human’s involvement in those arts comes from their development in non-creation or value production. Working for a wage is non-creation, because what is produced through wage-labor is profit. The actual quality of the work is secondary.
Creation is a complete process. It starts in our environment and the imagination, goes through steps, and has various results. Because working for a wage is only one part of the whole process of value creation, it is not totally creative. It is alienated creativity. The full creative process at work is the process of value production or profit. The labor we do is disconnected from its product, so it denies the creative process. We are reunited with the product of our labor in consumption. Waged-workers consume commodities they can afford. Unwaged-workers receive what waged-workers give them or they are imprisoned by state institutions. Consumption is separated from its source and is thus alienated too. Together production and consumption form the total disunity of our creative activities. Capitalists consume the worker. The unity of their activity is the creation of our disunity or alienation. To unite our lives we must take back our creative and consuming power and produce for ourselves not the capitalists. We must all be artists whose creation would be a unified life for each producer. Our art will need to cross a new boundary to complete the collapse of commodification.
Realms of legitimization are the moments and spaces of exchange in which creative works receive approval. Legitimization is a concept that exists because of the adversarial nature between artistic expression and commodity production. Artistic expression and more generally creation is meant to be free and serve a useful purpose which is the choice of the producer. The value of a creation is relative to its use. It is different with commodities which can only be used when the producer isn’t using it. Commodities require an exchange to be valuable. So in order for an alienated-creation (a commodity) to be legitimate it has to be sold. The only way something can be sold is if someone else wants it. So the producer has to not want it and someone else has to want it in order for a commodity to be valuable. What kinds of products are produced in this relationship? Chill, I want to cry at this moment. The product produced in this relationship is our concrete oppression.
Because of the concentration of wealth in the hands of capitalists and state institutions, they monopolize the power of legitimization. Legitimization will be obsolete when all people express themselves freely. A creation that pleases others will meet the expression of joy and comradery in return rather than a cash sum. Unfavorable creations will meet the expression of people taking it down (negation). Expressions are not meant to fit an ideal, but instead flow in the spirit of dialog which is different from legitimization, a one sided process controlled by the economy. In dialog, the producer and the product are reunited and freed from the commodity form. Creations no longer express the power of capitalists and institutions who monopolize the power of legitimization and hence the means of expression. Expression finds a new mediator apart from the realms of legitimization and is legitimized by the act itself.
Exchange is an expression of the commodity form. In school, ideas are often legitimized in forms that can be easily commodified. The lesson plan allows the school to effectively commodify the work and ideas of the instructor to be consumed by the student. The homework assignment represents another exchange between the student, an unwaged worker in the case of some and a sponsored employee in the case of some others, and the instructor who represents the institution indirectly because of the discretion they can take. In some cases instructors are willing to bend the rules and give a higher or lower grade or in other cases are more representative of the institution’s standards. Going back to those who are sponsored by the institution. Those who have scholarships and go on to conduct paid research have their ideas legitimized in papers, books, and lectures, which are all forms of commodified knowledge. Students who do not work in academia can still be legitimized by the same forms or they can choose other forms of documented knowledge.
The realms of legitimization also create a void where the product (ideas) are separated from the producers (students but more generally the proletariat) and consumed by the institution to continue the factory style production of the university business. The institutions neglect the social practice of education or dialog and turn education into a long term bid (like a jail sentence) to mediocrity aka wage slavery. The expression of ideas in a fluid state among members of a community is a creative expression at the heart of transforming social relations. The thoughts and ideas of people are often not valued when they are not in the form of expert opinions because of the domination of the economic sector over all life. Expert opinion in this case means legitimized by the institution. The expertise of individuals should come from an experience that can be applied to the logic and values of the oppressed. Expertise builds on educational practice but does not give it ultimate power. Our (identifying with the oppressed) experts cannot come purely from the realm of exchange but from experience. The poverty of thought which may exist in communities comes from a poverty of life and should be listened to as the witness to an oppressed experience. I do not mean to reference poverty defined by the social disorder which defines poverty in terms of commodity accumulation. I mean poverty in its useful sense, which is a poverty detrimental to freedom and expression. Every expression must be looked at with careful scrutiny against the imposition of any predetermined ideal be it based on anarchism or anything. The true threat to our freedom is idealism and the wicked worlds it spins. Rather, a careful process of communication is necessary to name the world for the purpose of transforming it and for the power of legitimization to be in the hands of each individual not in the exclusive hands of the economy.
The fetishization of appearances replaces the real experience. Take online dating in one case: the experience of meeting someone and learning things about them is replaced by a simulated experience. The computer program gets to know us. It collects our pictures and other information, and mediates who we talk to and how we appear to them. The experience of meeting someone has always been dependent on the conditions of society. Never before has a society been so based on imagined realities found in the images of the processes of production. Our dependence on the simulation spontaneously created comes from the very productive forces which hold us captive. As long as we consider our lives separate from our work, we will be alienated from connection of the two. Because our work continues to be something alienated, our lives will be alienated which includes all our activities outside of work.
In your life, you must have gone through or witnessed a profound change in a relationship. Perhaps you did not know someone, and through the process of sharing moments with one another you grew an affinity towards them which is a bonding kind of love. Maybe that relationship becomes stronger and transforms into something more permanent. Or maybe in a different direction: you learn your wishes to live a free life come into conflict with the other person and you either adapt to theirs, agree on a mutual position, or break the bond altogether. This conflict occurs on a personal level when we battle between our repression and our desire. Our relationships on individual levels in society can be seen, for example, when we go to the grocery store or a restaurant, and carelessly eat food prepared or grown by people who we never communicate with or think about. Some might even have poor relationships with those who reproduce their living. It seems like going about life relating to other people in this completely disconnected way could be considered an alienated and therefore unhealthy relationship.
Alienated relationships seem to come from the adaptation to an agreement but not a mutual one. It is the adaptation to an overarching system that is not mutual but strictly imposed. Here we can move past the individual and the personal. Just like a relationship with a person can transform so can our relationship with capitalism and the state. An oppressive overarching system doesn’t have to be a reality. We can go from reluctant compliance to defiance and a strong effort to fix our social relationships. It can be changed to something consciously controlled instead of unconsciously controlling us. It can be an overarching system whose very order is harmony with disorder. A society of diverse self-sustaining communities connected on a global level would make it easier to maintain ourselves in the face of a decaying ecology and very large population. A central government apparatus is inefficient handling the problems of world wide catastrophe on the largest scale. Or even lesser matters like proper transportation or work conditions. We have seen bureaucracy collapse plenty of times and fall upon foundational communal structures to bring it back. It isn’t government and non-government agencies which save people from catastrophe, it is the people. We are the only ones keeping ourselves alive. Every community working on a local level and communicating internationally is the most efficient way to fix the problems. Each part doing their part.
Think about a life where instead of having to fit one ideal we can conceive of the possibility of no ideals. Instead, people would be free to mediate their own experience instead of it being mediated by a simulation backed by bureaucracy. The simulation of life <!–referenced by Guy Debord in Society of the Spectacle–>, is in the midst of crumbling before us. The possibilities we once took as impossible now make up the tragedies we shudder at. All the worst we could imagine has continued to happen. Despite the proliferation of images which spell progress, we see more people in prisons and detainment centers, more people fleeing from war, more regions engaged in combat against imperialism, more environmental catastrophe, more native displacement and so on.
The reality is not represented in the simulation. The simulation cannot find any base in reality and hence is crumbing before us. Reality is still the source of life not its negation, the simulation. Its cancerous hold on our social esteem gives it some legitimacy in the realm of exchange. But that is a realm steadily in decline with the steady decline of the conditions of actual life. Never before have the excesses of capitalism posed such a threat to life and now we find ourselves in an explosive moment of realization. The chance for a revolutionary moment is here. It is up to us to make it a revolution that is permanent. We must show the limits of the world (the possible impossibilities)<!–reference to book The Impossible Community–>, releasing our repression. And also show what it unbelievably is (impossible possibilities). But how do we show that limit and furthermore break it when so much of our resistance is coopted or destroyed and what survives is all dependent on taste? The taste of the patrons puts art and artists at the mercy of the market. Artists and other creators fight for survival and their art becomes a means to surplus.
What is the relation between realms of legitimization and the fetishization of appearances? What is the relevance to a political artistic release? Realms of legitimization thrive through separation or alienation while the fetish of appearances is ideological. Although, the realms of legitimization are also ideological because they separate reality into parts to control potential outcomes of human behavior. The fetishization of appearences also relies on separation or alienation because it is the consumption of images and ideas separate from their realities. The two work together. Legitimization is inherent in the fetishization of appearances.
**A few words here after talking about realms of legitimization and the fetishization of appearances to list some main ideas.
1) Capitalism’s expansion of the economic aspect of society. <!– Bookchin Post Sarcity Anarchism-→
2) Unity and separation ←-Society of the Spectacle-→
3) Production for the producer. This will play a crucial role in revolutionary practice.
I want to be a part of a political art movement that plays with the forms available freely and socially. A movement of hyper copying. Down with the planned exhibition. Enough of the gallery form. Goodbye to state approval. Our art will be in the streets; in fiber optic cables; on shopfronts. It will be ephemeral like the performance works of artists who escape the realm of legitimization in art galleries and the violence of the state by performing in public spaces←-reference Corpus Delecti by Coco Fusco–>.. Or graffiti artists who leave their mark in the dark. And memes which are a very effective method of social and political critique. Memes take the imagery of the excess of the economic sector and infuse it with new meaning. This method proliferates the spectacle in an accelerated way to accelerate its decay.
The method relies on the simulation’s unreality. If the simulation’s unreality is emphasized, the experience of disbelief will also be widespread. Its footing in reality will be lost and it will dissolve. But the exposition of the unreality of the simulation must be coupled with the reality of the expression of our lives. The decay of the simulation will come from our freedom to play and participate. Make art for the experience. Make art to play with your friends… to show your enemy how we play and that their standards won’t curb your happiness. Make art for thinking, and make art for laughing. Make art for crying. Experience all your passions and emotions. Copy what you like and make it fly with the spirit of revolution. Copy what disgusts you and give it fangs to show everyone its sinistera. Expropriate pleasure. Take back life for the purpose of living. Unite the producers and the products.
Politics are dead. It has grown mold and is infected with worms from prolonged death after bureaucratic alienation. With all the means of subversion and social revolution available to us politics are obsolete and what is left is pleasure or free play. A life for pleasure is the opposite of a lie in the imagination of our exploiters. When living for pleasure, one would not be able to ignore the exploitation of daily life. In the simulation, enjoyment becomes a duty of consumption rather than an art of a life where we live without selling our labor. Capitalism alienates our consumption from our production. Instead of enjoying our work and working for the fun of it, capitalism alienates us from our work and makes it something we dislike. It is separated from what we imagine we do for our own selfish needs as we enter into the relationship as consumers. As consumers we have no choice but to consume the alienated products of our production. The real freedom lies in deciding what is done in production.
Alienated consumption is not pleasure. Pleasure must exist in struggle not in slavery. A life without struggle is a struggle without life. It is the struggle that we live in our capitalist society. True enjoyment is policed and put in cages. Laws prohibit all types of free play: graffiti, truancy, smoking, drinking, not paying for enjoyment or survival. Life should be for the producer not the products of the masters.
The alienation from revolutionary life is an epidemic. We organize to create a world according to the logic and values of the oppressed. To use a method that creates a separation from the everyday activities of life is to separate first ourselves (our life and our work) and just as disastrous our work and the communities meant to be impacted by the work. A solution has to be: to free our organizing from the economic sector and make the totality of everyday life the terrain for transformation. Revolutionary life has been bureaucratized, because of the limits on our imagination for organization from our miseducation, cooptation, and repression. Organization is easily crushed when it does not break from those limits imposed by interpolation from the state. Oppressive conditions exist in all of life not just in economics. The alienation, also, from realizing your group as the authentic community to transform social relationships exists when we pose the revolution as yet to happen. Adding the insistence on fighting to get to a revolution, so we can behave as though we have won. The revolution is already happening and will never stop. The conditions for revolution have been forming for many years and if they should ever stop we will be living in a state of oppression once again. The universe itself is chaotic and developing, why fight it?
The corpse of politics has been sucked dry and everyday life cannot be ignored. Everyday life is the arena for political activity. Fuck organizing and take your affinity groups to the streets to find pleasure creating the community to end alienation.
We must fight boredom at all costs. Nothing we do can be boring. I find it too easy to lose spirits in the activities of organizing. Alienation sets into our lives and makes political activity into a side project. Fully immerse yourself in the life adventure of realizing a world without repressive apparatuses. Make our suffering into the motivation to found a way of life that aims to alleviate suffering. Make joy, fun, and experimentation with the forms which exist the new life to transition to new games and forms of play. Bring play to those who suffer more from our boredom and complacency. Give up the chains of institutionalized entertainment and create the theater of the streets. Turn conversation into the fuel of the fires to crumble the old world. Embrace revolutionary drama and the joy of everyday life. Make love with art and make life an art form itself. Just do it for fun and not for perfection. Perfection is in the act itself, not a standard for exploitation.
The time for organizing is done. It is time for disorganizing. Society has already been organized to its own demise, and to strengthen it objectively/ subjectively is to run faster towards your demise. Organizing runs stale with the ghosts of old traditions. The left has collapsed into the basement of history, only revived when we take a crawl into its depths. It is possible to jump ahead of the game turned against us. Lets point the finger fully at the evidence of resistance in our own lives. One day of our lives can provide enough evidence to arm a revolutionary moment. To arm each individual with the tools to their fulfillment will transform our society, which fetishizes organization, into a flux which embraces the power of disorganization or our own spontaneous capacities. An individual who trusts themselves to be responsible can create trust and responsibility in the world until all individuals form the foundation for a collective of cooperation. Not a utopia by any means, because calling any subjective reality ideal is totalitarian. To transform everyday life is to see that life without exploitation is an aim worth getting to NOW!