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This is almost reminiscent of the wild atmosphere in the Italian factories in 1969. Except that now, the atmosphere is without doubt more serious. Killings of bosses are frequent, and destructions, without reaching the same extremities, occur almost daily. There are numerous examples recalling certain features of the anti-work of the 60s-70, only to a higher degree: lack of discipline, destructive fury, few or no demands, indifference to the consequences to plant and equipment or to jobs. These characteristics are strongly present in the recent struggles in Bangladesh.
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The insurrectional uprising of the proletariat cannot escape taking possession of some elements of capital. This process has been considered as the beginning of the expropriation of the expropriators, with a strong implication of a return to work under the workers’ control and for their own benefit. This implication probably arises mainly from the ideology developed in proletarian politics, based on skilled labour and the notion that capital steals its production from the worker, who could easily produce without the capitalists. What was already at the time an ideology no longer has any basis today. Workers do sometimes seize the means of production and start working for their own account, but these occur outside of insurrectional phases and in fact exist because there is no more powerful movement of the proletariat. Of course, these self-management attempts imply conflicts with capital. But they nonetheless amount to ways of surviving in the present society.
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In opposition to what goes on during the prosperity, there are no more automatisms in an insurrection. Then, proletarians themselves have to invent the way to resocialise among themselves to confront capital. An interactive process develops among proletarians, and the more their individualisation is advanced, the more intense it is. Whether the subject is building barricades around working class areas in Paris (in 1848 for example), the Kiel sailors’ mutiny in 1918, or the destruction in downtown Athens by young Greeks after one of them was murdered by the police, the insurrection starts each time at an individual level. By word or deed, there have to be a few proletarians to start. Some women had to give the alarm and try to prevent Thiers’ army from seizing the Garde Nationale cannons for the Commune to start. Nobody gave orders, because nobody would have found reasons to obey. The ways in which an insurrection starts and develops are always somewhat mysterious, and seldom reported in history books. And in any case, there would be no lessons for would-be leaders to draw because the circumstances are, in their details, unique each time. The only thing that counts is that, on each occasion, some proletarians had, as individuals, to take the initiative of crossing the line of legality, of overcoming fear so that the crisis activity could form itself in an interactive way. Without that crisis activity, no communist revolution is possible. For the subject’s individualization is one of the necessary conditions of communism.
This is precisely what breaks up when crisis turns to insurrection. Nothing that the capitalists propose is acceptable to the proletariat any longer. Even within a short time-space, there is no objective standard of living that would constitute an intangible floor below which the proletariat would automatically rise up. History shows that the proletariat can accept abyssal poverty, but also that it sometimes refuses a lowering of its standard of living, even when the latter is seemingly no worse than other attacks by capital. The parameters of this sudden shift from submission to insurrection cannot be determined in advance.
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we have to make it impossible for white boys
we have to make it impossible for society
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Ellos mandan porque tu obedeces…
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The uprisings in ‘05 France, ‘08 Greece, and ‘11 London, so often cited, give us a picture of revolt on the part of youth with no hope in the future (not to say that only youth participated). Yet while moments that break with the normalized social order create the opportunity for new explorations, clearly these events do not shatter the structures of domination that compose our societies. Natural disasters, recessions and countless other events may also change the shape of our cities, regions and societies. Yet often, society-altering events in themselves may be less significant than what we create within the cracks they open.
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