Media radicalism as a family meal
A blog post originally written Carbure & published on Médiapart on May 7th, 2019. We have translated other pieces by Carbure in the past and we share this translation since it echos sentiments we fell when it comes to our ideas, radical media & mass media.
Far-Left circles have recently been annoyed by criticisms of [Juan] Branco 1“Close adviser to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he has worked for the Criminal Special Court of Central Africa and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.” (Source:Wikipedia), [Frédéric] Lordon 2“He is an influential figure in France’s Nuit debout movement.” (Source:Wikipedia), [François] Ruffin 3“He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the satirical quarterly Fakir; Ruffin is best-known for directing the film Merci patron! (2016), as well as for playing an instrumental role in the formation of the Nuit debout movement in France.” (Source:Wikipedia), and other media radicals, blaming those who critiqued them for a supposed elitism that is responsible for the fact that our ideas – mainly our communist and anarchist ideas – are not “present” throughout the population and are only discussed in restricted circles. But it must be clearly stated: if these people [Branco, Lordon, Ruffin, etc.] occupy the top billing on media posters it is precisely because they are not revolutionaries. Despite being not being very radical, they are also quite accessible and help “people” think, which should then help lead these “people” towards more radical ideas: though as soon as they are present the question of revolution is rejected from the get-go; being not-very-radical is the condition of access to public debate.
There is no conspiracy or block made on the diffusion of revolutionary ideas. Apart from the fact that the concrete possibility of revolution will evidently never be discussed on television, radical media pundits are also the manifestation of the fact that some people do not want revolution, or are even capable of thinking about it, not for lack of imagination, stupidity or cowardice, but because the class struggle as it exists is never (in its most common manifestations) but the defense of various class interests as they exist under Capital. Which is to say that class struggle, within the post-programmatic4 Programmatism: a term common to the Ultra-Left which describes a period of time in which the classical worker’s movement expressed itself via defined programs which would guide its direction & activity. Most in the Ultra-Left see this period as now gone since there is no program the now-largely-dead worker’s movement could put forth that Capital could fulfill. period we’re in always expresses itself within the language of reformism. One could “adapt” the discourse however one wants to, but you can’t put ideas into people that they don’t want. If intellectual radical media pundits are heard, it is because they translate the critique of this society into the language of this society. Revolution is not an idea, an opinion which we must rally the greatest number to; rather it is an overcoming, a rupture. And nobody is ready for this rupture: we’d rather renounce fossil fuels than the divisions of class society (and most likely we’ll renounce neither).
Intellectual and political radical media pundits demonstrate the limit of all struggles, a limit which is their natural environment, and it is there where they live and prosper as good little parasites of struggles which are but-the-beginning-let’s-keep-on-fighting or which are a debate-which-must-continue, as they love to hum about. At any rate, they adore struggles and would be nothing without them. A factory closing? Bingo. It’s Ruffin who makes a film about it. Hoping it lasts. They excel at knowing the right side and in giving everyone the satisfaction of being on the right side, that of the poor and the oppressed. And as a bonus, there is the continuing of the revolt, the snubbing of institutions and the pleasure of throwing cobblestones into the pot of the big family meal which is public opinion. They bicker but in the end they always agree on what is essential: the State, Democracy, Work, and Wages, but at a good rate, the not-too-Rich, obviously [private] property and the family in some form or other. Coffee, then a digestif, kisses and see you next Sunday.
For us struggles are not some cozy environment, a backdrop to place our ideas to raise their value but rather they are the problem. And if we are never completely at home in this environment, even when we participate, it is because in this society there is no place for communism. The questions we pose to the struggles as they are, we ask from the point of view of overcoming and rupture; from the point of view of something cracking; from the point of view of tension and tears; which is never something comfortable. But we also ask them from the point of view of the situation as it is, and the relations as they are, which is to say of a situation and relations of shit. Because in any struggle we know how to deal with capitalist society. To put it in a pompous way, the enemy is in us, the enemy reproduces us for as long as we reproduce it. The critique which we practice does not build united fronts, but reveals fragmentation as a multiplicity of fronts and conflicts such as they are within class societies, precisely because it is class societies which divide individuals so that they can be re-assembled in accordance to the criteria of class society. We have nothing to value that is already present and stand to lose everything we possess. We do not wrap up our theoretical works with pretty silver wrapping paper of righteous anger and of tomorrows of song as we bring them to the market place of liberatory ideas. If our ideas are not for sale, it is not due to elitism nor pride, but simply because there is no market or buyers of them.
But the public and accessible character, to the greatest number, is not the absolute and definitive criteria with which to judge a theoretical work: let us propose with a little optimism that it is the adequacy to the situation, and the capacity to most closely grasp the situation, in all its contradictions, which is the impost important criterion. And let us also propose that those who would really make use of it, will be able to find its true utility. And let’s not forget that theories die with revolutions, like everything else.