The English write Jeremy Bentham used the phrase once (I believe he actually said “upon” and not “on” but whatever). He wasn’t talking about The Coming Insurrection but he could have been. That’s the title of a whack job piece of what I recently heard aptly described as lifestyle communism – little different from lifestyle anarchism except in the resources it (ab)uses, calling to mind Paul Mattick’s suggestion that Marxism might be the last refuge of the bourgeoisie (most notably the petit bourgeoisie, or upper strata cultural producers who aspire to petit bourgeois [qua celebrity] status). Here’s a good review of why the book is crap.

Here’s the last bit of the book:

The goal of any insurrection is to become irreversible. It becomes irreversible when you’ve defeated both authority and the need for authority, property and the taste for appropriation, hegemony and the desire for hegemony. That is why the insurrectionary process carries within itself the form of its victory, or that of its defeat. Destruction has never been enough to make things irreversible. What matters is how it’s done. There are ways of destroying that unfailingly provoke the return of what has been crushed. Whoever wastes their energy on the corpse of an order can be sure that this will arouse the desire for vengeance. Thus, wherever the economy is blocked and the police are neutralized, it is important to invest as little pathos as possible in overthrowing the authorities. They must be deposed with the most scrupulous indifference and derision.

In times like these, the end of centralized revolutions reflects the decentralization of power. Winter Palaces still exist but they have been relegated to assaults by tourists rather than revolutionary hordes. Today it is possible to take over Paris, Rome, or Buenos Aires without it being a decisive victory. Taking over Rungis would certainly be more effective than taking over the Elysée Palace. Power is no longer concentrated in one point in the world; it is the world itself, its flows and its avenues, its people and its norms, its codes and its technologies. Power is the organization of the metropolis itself. It is the impeccable totality of the world of the commodity at each of its points. Anyone who defeats it locally sends a planetary shock wave through its networks.

“the taste (…) the desire”

Moralizing. Police your wants. I’m for that, actually, but not this way, and it’s ironic given the source.

“the insurrectionary process carries within itself the form of its victory, or that of its defeat.”

That is: insurrections succeed. Or else they don’t. That’s deep.

“Whoever wastes their energy on the corpse of an order can be sure that this will arouse the desire for vengeance. ”

This is a clumsy but workable description of the role of circulations of texts like the Coming Insurrection in a niche market that capitalizes on left chic: lifestyle communism’s consumerist aspect.

“wherever the economy is blocked and the police are neutralized, it is important to invest as little pathos as possible in overthrowing the authorities. They must be deposed with the most scrupulous indifference and derision.”

Deride, and deride indifferently, or else capitalism and the police shall triumph. Nonsense upon stilts.

“the end of centralized revolutions reflects the decentralization of power. Winter Palaces still exist but they have been relegated to assaults by tourists rather than revolutionary hordes.”

In other words:
A. economic and state power used to be centralized
B. they are no longer so
C. there is a homology between the form of economic and state power and the form of revolutionary transformation
Thus,
D. centralized revolution used to make sense
E. centralized revolution no longer makes sense

B is highly questionable if at all true, particularly as a marker of a transition from A as a prior condition.

C is also highly questionable.

D is probably false and sides retrospectively with some of the worst elements of the marxist tradition

E in the sense of “we are not for seizing state power” is fine but there are many other – less stupid and less odious – roads to that destination.

“Today it is possible to take over Paris, Rome, or Buenos Aires without it being a decisive victory.”

Okay, sure. The force of this sentence is to work against a “take over the city” kind of perspective in any given locale. After all, surely what we want is “a decisive victory.” But then: “Anyone who defeats [power] locally sends a planetary shock wave through its networks.” Either sending “a planetary shock wave through [power’s] networks is not a decisive victory, in which case who cares, or it *is* a decisive victory. In the latter case, that would mean that taking over Paris, Rome, or Buenos Aires would in fact be a decisive victory because it would send a planetary shock wave through the networks of power. I repeat, nonsense upon stilts.

Very fashionable, though. I’ll be sure to buy a copy to place on my coffee table next to a black balaclava and a collection of Debord films on DVD for when I have my philosopher friends over to drink clear liquor and toast our twin certitude in both the bankruptcy of all actually existing organizations and the inevitable arrival of a true, pure organization that shall have done once and for all with the muck and the dirt of this degraded life.

As a final thought, this collection of texts to my mind confirms the near-pointlessness of post-operaismo, now little more than a slightly different plumaged breed of so-called post-leftism and/or insurrectionary anarchism. Lifestyle communism, an infantile disorder no more communist than the PCI or CP-USA.

I should say, of course, I am against the police rounding up those people in Tarnac and the attempt to whip up a frenzy around them. They should not have to endure the fucking up of their lives that may well result. That is important to say.

At the same time, the rest of us should not have to endure a concomitant result of the police action, the further infliction of such terrible ideas on us and the further diversion of communist ideas by aesthetes and mystics.

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