Neither Oblivion Nor Ceremony : Against the Cult of the Carrion

From War on Society

“It seems more satisfactory, for me, seeing that it is about men who have been distinguished for their actions, than to honor them only with actions.”
Thucydides, History of the Peloponesian War, 411 BC

It is dangerous to declare war against the State and this world, because the State only knows how to do two things: progress, and combat everyone who would destroy it, weaken it, or impede its progress. As such, anarchists, by which we mean revolutionaries, are conscious of our decisions and of the responsibilities that derive from them. When we say revolutionaries, we are not speaking of any belief in a perfect and peaceful world, nor in the chimeric belief in the possibility of seeing the arrival of some total anti-authoritarian revolution which we can only dream of in our mental masturbation, in our lifetime or not. We are speaking of a permanent tension toward the deepening of a process of rupture with power and its institutions, through radical critique and destruction.

On May 22, 2009, Mauricio Morales, a respected comrade from Santiago, Chile, fell in combat in this social war that he tried, like so many other anarchists across the world try, to contribute to with our means and our ethics, our own intensity and desires. The explosion of the homemade bomb that he was carrying on his back caused his brutal death; it was intended for the Prison Guards School which he was not far from. As far away as we were at this moment, in the heart of this old Europe, the news of his death upset us for what it was: the death of a brother. We did not know Mauricio directly, but does that matter? We recognize ourselves in him, as we recognize ourselves each day in all the attacks against domination, and that was enough for us. Like many others, we lit up the night in his commemoration. Because it is the only form of commemoration that suits us to salute the memory of the comrade: continuing the fight in solidarity, yes, but much more: propagating the critique of this world in action, and fostering its spread.

Because our attacks against the existent do not have as their primary objective to honor the memory of the fallen comrades, to send a dedication to one imprisoned comrade or another, nor to dialogue with power body-to-body and head-on. The attack is for us a necessity so that our words have meaning and our ideas are not just concepts. And we find totally secondary, we see as totally dispensable, this need to always send winks or be self-referential. The recipients of the winks do not need to be named if they recognize themselves in the act itself. And offering an attack to a comrade distances the others from the possibility of appropriating it for themselves, and cuts ourselves off from an infinity of possibilities for appropriation and reproducibility, and also the anonymity that characterizes our anarchist intervention in all its humility. To clarify what we call humility, we mean that our attacks are registered as modest contributions in the social war that has been fought forever, and not as heroic acts, but as we have always said, it is easy to attack and it doesn’t matter which enraged person does it. This is why our comrades fallen in combat are not heroes.

Our attacks are daily, they do not wait and do not require any call to solidarity. This is our sole form of commemoration: in permanent conflictuality. Because the other forms of commemoration do not serve to remedy our insurgent hearts, because crying has never made a wall fall down. Whether they are of divine or earthly religion, the apostles of this world don’t offer any solution to our problems. Vigils, ceremonies, elegies, marches, anniversaries, pretty speeches and cheap lyricism we willingly abandon and we continue on our chosen path. We are not interested in glory and honor, but in dignity, love and hate. It is with these three sisters that we walk every day. We would have preferred not to have felt the need to write these lines, but we are afraid of seeing values of a religious and military origin that are not our own mixing in with ours.

“The cult of the dead is only an insult to true pain. The act of keeping a small garden, dressing in black, wearing a veil do not prove the sincerity of grief. Grief must also disappear, individuals must react to the finality and inevitability of death. We must fight against suffering instead of exhibiting it, instead of walking in grotesque processions and false congratulations (…) We must overthrow the pyramids, the burial mounds, the tombs; we must run the plow through the cemetery walls to rid humanity of what is called respect for the dead, but which is the cult of the carrion.”
Albert Libertad, L’anarchie, October 31, 1907.

There is no glory in the act of dying in combat. Power will reserve morbid consequences for our decisions as combatants, whether prison, torture, or death. All this bad news forms part of the contract that we signed with ourselves, in the decision of the war on the existent. We know what we can expect, from the most beautiful to the most tragic, and we are ready, come what may. This time it was fatal, but this does not make Mauricio a more involved or more courageous comrade than any other combatant. That night, he assumed the risks like many others do every night, and chance stole him from us. It could have happened to you, to me, to him, to her, or to any other individual for whom anarchy is not merely a matter of words or postures.
Many of our comrades died in combat. The Ravachols, Filippis and Morales of our history are numerous, of more or less living memory, they continue existing in every blow we make, in every assault carried out against domination. And they are not martyrs, they did not die for a cause, they did not sacrifice themselves. They died trying to realize a dream, they didn’t surrender themselves and they were killed. That is all. Nothing will bring them back, not a song, not a poem, not a speech, because there is no beyond, there are no heroes, there is no other world where to cure ourselves from this one.

Comrades, let us not give in to the siren song of admiration, charisma and social value. Anarchists should not be canonized. Leave that to the star-system and religious idolatry. May each individual be her or his own hero rather than seeking greatness in others. Mauricio is not a statue, a poster or an icon. He is a source of inspiration, a brother.

Against the cult of the carrion.

(June 2013)

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Comments

this is such a necessary critique of every alienating, banal communique ever and the place from which that name-checking (or, more genuinely, lionizing) mentality springs

why would this be "Against the Cult of THE Carrion" in english? war on society are english speakers, right? Cult of Carrion or Carrion Cult. unlike romance languages, no need for the definite article, it just sound awkard. the carrion?

Maybe they're just trying to get everyone who travels by airplane to check all their bags? Right after they check their privilege of course.

This might have been a really good critique of a rampant fetishization, except that they so clearly don't know what humility really means. "Crying has never made a wall fall down"? Really?? If the revolution is a chimera, making a wall fall down has no purpose. Turning their rage into a revolutionary practice and others' grief into a womanly uselessness is the height of arrogance.

Here come the Calvinist priests of the attack, flagelating themselves and all of us, driving us on the endless path of righteous warfare and destruction, for there is no hope in this shadow world, this world of satan.

The State is not a real thing. It is nonsense to ‘personify’ the State;

“the State only knows how to do two things: progress, and combat everyone who would destroy it, weaken it, or impede its progress.”

the State is something that 'appears to exist' by being ‘political’ and ‘talking it up’ and making believe that it exists. When the tribes of Africa, the Middle East and the Americas were confronted by colonizers who told them that the State existed and that their living space was now part of the what the State was and that they were thus obliged to bow to the Supreme Central Power of the State and the commands it issued, of course the ‘primitives’ were not sufficiently superstitious to believe that the State was a ‘real thing’. they understood very well that it was a religious belief that they were being given a choice to obediently ‘believe’ in (and have a chance to survive as pretend-believers), or be slaughtered sooner rather than later.

“All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, not only because of their historical development … but also because of their systematic structure.” ---Bartelson, Jens, ‘A Genealogy of Sovereignty’
.
“State sovereignty “is a ‘religion’ and a faith.” …– Lombardi, Mark Owen. “Third-World Problem-Solving and the ‘Religion’ of Sovereignty: Trends and Prospects.”
.
“ … western political thinking itself is grounded in theological concepts of “Christian nationalism.” The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. This “God died around the time of Machiavelli…. Sovereignty was … His earthly replacement.” —Walker, R. B. J. and Mendlovitz, Saul H. “Interrogating State Sovereignty.”

That is the problem that anarcha-indigenist de-colonizers are trying to defuse, the superstitious belief and faith in ‘the State’.

We’re not going to make much progress if we buy into a belief in it, and form ourselves into an ‘anti-State’ organization since that will be another ‘secularized theological’ organization based on ‘belief’ and ‘faith’.

The idea of indigenous anarchists is to ‘undermine the intellectual [secularized theological] premises of colonialism’, not to use those same abstract/absolutist intellectual premises to construct another such belief-based organization that will be put forward to wrestle with the first imaginary monster, made manifest by the institutions that the believers construct to symbolize its magnificent powerful presence, that startled deer and beasts of the forest look upon in bewilderment while ‘old man river’ just keeps rolling along right through it.

The idea of decolonization, is to break the superstitious habit wherein some mumbo-jumbo words;

‘With these words, we declare this Sovereign State [/corporation] to be an ‘independently-existing sovereign thing-in-itself, with its own absolute centre-of-authority and centre-of-intelligence whose directions are our commands, which we will arm ourselves and give our lives, if necessary, to actualize and sustain continuing belief in.’

You can’t just declare things-into existence with words. That’s not real in a natural physical sense. It’s religion.

Want to hear something that sounds equally like ‘religion’, in the sense that one starts with words that declare stuff like ‘the anti-State Behemoth’ exists for the purpose of doing battle with the State Behemoth. This behemoth is not directly visible but can be confirmed by the presence of retroviral antibodies, actions that give meaning to its existence, in the sense of a not visible something that the authorities are reaching out to swat.

“The attack is for us a necessity so that our words have meaning and our ideas are not just concepts”

Decolonization is where people re-invert this upside-down process to return a natural [primitive] mode wherein the sustaining of balance and harmony in the living space orchestrates and shapes individual and collective behaviour. That’s where the Zapatistas are, ... they are not building an 'organization-in-itself' by defining its existence with words/concepts and trying to to make it 'believable' by acting as if the conceptual thing ‘really did exist’, but are instead letting their individual and collective behaviours be outside-inward orchestrated/shaped in the service of cultivating a harmonious and nurturing living space.

The activity of letting one’s behaviour serve the cultivating and sustaining of a nurturing space to live in and raise families in [as in pre-colonial ‘primitive’ mode], is a ‘physically/naturally real activity’ that even the birds and beasts of the forests understand. The orchestrating and shaping of individual and collective behaviour is from outside-inward influence, ... not from the ‘inside-outward’ [top-down] influence coming from some purported 'centre-of-intelligence' that issues orders that all must obey because it purports also to be a supreme centre of authority [the believers say they like it this way, particularly those closer to top and centre]..

” The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God.”

We don’t need to raise yet another religious edifice to lock horns with the sovereigntist religious edifice in an unending holy war that renders the potentially nurturing space that decolonizers are trying to cultivate, toxic for everyone.

obviously the state is not a "thing" or real in a "natural physical sense", but are you seriously denying its reality on that basis?

"Hitherto men have constantly made up for themselves false conceptions about themselves, about what they are and what they ought to be. They have arranged their relationships according to their ideas of God, of normal man, etc. The phantoms of their brains have got out of their hands. They, the creators, have bowed down before their creations. Let us liberate them from the chimeras, the ideas, dogmas, imaginary beings under the yoke of which they are pining away. Let us revolt against the rule of thoughts. Let us teach men, says one, to exchange these imaginations for thoughts which correspond to the essence of man; says the second, to take up a critical attitude to them; says the third, to knock them out of their heads; and -- existing reality will collapse. "

“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.” – Edward Sapir

Let’s put it this way. There is an activity within the global relational activity involving ‘believers in the State’ and those forced to humour the 'believers in the State’. It is an ‘activity’ and it is not a ‘real physical independently-existing-thing-in-itself’. Language allows us to ‘think of an activity’ as if it were ‘a thing-in-itself’; e.g. a convection cell or ‘relational feature’ in a ‘relational flow’ such as a hurricane. The ‘hurricane’ is an activity, a relational feature within a relational space, but we use the subjective idealizing power of language to impute ‘thing-in-itself’ status to it. As Nietzsche says;

“Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531

The State is as much an ‘independently-existing thing’ as ‘Katrina’ the hurricane is an ‘independently-existing thing’. SHE IS NOT and NEITHER IS THE STATE. They are relational features within a relational space. They are NOT REALLY ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ or ‘powerboaters’ with their own internal process driven and directed behaviour, as we like to portray them using noun and verb language. In other words, they do not have the God-like internal powers we like to give them credit for in our intellectual mentally modeled 'realities' [these come in three levels as Erich Jantsch, systems sciences pioneer observed].

The farmer does not actually ‘produce the corn’ [let's hear it for the sun and rain and soil!] and the State does not actually ‘produce the goods and services’ alluded to by the GDP. The farmer and the State are both included in the productive enterprise of nature, they are not really 'independently-existing-things-in-themselves-with-their-own-internally-sourced-powerboater behaviour. Global relational activity is global relational activity. That is the ‘physical reality’ and there is nothing 'independently-existing' in it. just because we start talking [using noun and verb language] in terms of notional ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves called ‘States’ and ‘what States do’, this does not alter the more comprehensive ‘reality’ of global relational activity. For that matter there are no independently-existing storm-cells in the atmosphere either, but language allows us to impute their existence, as with ‘Katrina’ and make her the notional thing-in-herself, jump-start doer-of-deeds. As John Stuart Mill observed; “every definition implies an axiom, that in which we affirm the independent existence of the object defined”. That is the power of words and grammar, so much power that our intellectual modeling tools tend to run away with the workman, as emerson says.

As with ‘Katrina’, so with ‘the State’; i.e. ‘the State’ and ‘Katrina’ are ‘economy of thought’ based concepts [Mach]. They are secularized theological concepts with a notional God-like force in their interior to notionally locally source their powerboater behaviours.

“I am afraid we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’

It's not the bullet that kills you, it's the dualistic concept, the language-based relational space of the bullet that kills you: in fact, there is no bullet! you are actually still alive after it rips through your body! How do I know this? I read it in a book!

the reality is that language allows us to set our models up more or less as we choose. therefore our standard is to set up the model with two things in it. for example, george bush (holding a gun) and saddam hussein (apprehended at last). george pulls the trigger and plugs saddam right between the eyes. the bullet rips through saddams brain and lodges in the wall behind him. is saddam dead?

mcluhan would say; ‘what the fuck does it matter?’ what matters is how this alters our relations with one another and ourselves [ourselves = 'the relational space we share inclusion in']. the transforming relational medium is the message.

“Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs.” — Marshall McLuhan, ‘Understanding Media’

now, which reality would you like to choose, the reality of the foreground ‘system’ or the more comprehensive reality where the system is included in a relational suprasystem instead of being stuck out there in empty Euclidian space?

if you choose the foreground ‘system’ for your reality, you have the advantage that you can 'keep it simple stupid' and claim that ‘saddam is dead’ and ‘mission accomplished’.

on the other hand, if you acknowledge that the foreground system is not ‘really real’ but a language based construct that synthetically extracts relational features from the relational space, ... then what matters is how that relational suprasystem that the system of george and saddam are included in, is transforming.

don’t forget, the transforming relational suprasystem was always there as the actual physical reality, and it was you, the observer, who imposed your rifle-sight reference frames over the foreground system of george and saddam.

are the goings on in the bar on the Titanic ‘real’. if you are poking the barmaid on the floor behind the bar counter, ‘is it real’? it seems to be affirmed by newton’s laws which are in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things do’. then you feel the flow of hot fluid,.... wait a minute, its not hot.... the fluid is icy cold and it doesn’t belong to you or to the barmaid, it belongs to the space that the two of you are included in. you always suspected that newton had forgotten something, it was the relational space of the suprasystem that we are included in. . evidently, it’s not always a safe bet to assume that space is empty and just focus on ‘what things-in-themselves do’ as if they were in an absolute space and absolute time operating theatre.

this is way too complex, every time you look at another person, to understand the two of you as relational features in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum. george, people are depending on you. saddam is sure as hell going to slip away again if you don’t shoot now. same for osama if you ever catch up to him. you have made a big deal to get him. you have made out as if he is the cause of the troubles in the region. it had a better ‘presentation’ that way, without reference to the continually transforming relational spatial suprasystem and how all the peoples of the region got poked in the eye by the british and french carving them up into puppet states and putting the lid of brute military force on them, through puppet dictators and military force, some of whom turned into rogues who betrayed their blood oath of subservience to the colonial power mongering cabal. why bring the reality of the transforming relational spatial plenum into it. a simple foreground against a neutral coloured backdrop will do. there is saddam and there you are, just like the media like it, the villain and the hero. it is so simple. don’t you just love it? here goes, ... pulling the trigger for another storybook finish, mission accomplished. who gives a shit what mcluhan says. getting rid of saddam DOES matter. there is a lot of bad in saddam so that eliminating him has to improve the net good in the world, right? what’s that you say, mcluhan, ... don’t pull the keystone log out of the logjam from a canoe downstream of the jam?

did i get saddam or not! where did everybody go?

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