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The Coming Insurrection PDF, ePub eBook A call to arms by a group of French intellectuals that rejects leftist reform and aligns itself with younger, wilder forms of resistance. Thirty years of “crisis,” mass unemployment, and flagging growth, and they still want us to believe in the economy... We have to see that the economy is itself the crisis. It's not that there's not enough work, it's that there is too much A call to arms by a group of French intellectuals that rejects leftist reform and aligns itself with younger, wilder forms of resistance. Thirty years of “crisis,” mass unemployment, and flagging growth, and they still want us to believe in the economy... We have to see that the economy is itself the crisis. It's not that there's not enough work, it's that there is too much of it. The Coming Insurrection is an eloquent call to arms arising from the recent waves of social contestation in France and Europe. Written by the anonymous Invisible Committee in the vein of Guy Debord—and with comparable elegance—it has been proclaimed a manual for terrorism by the French government (who recently arrested its alleged authors). One of its members more adequately described the group as “the name given to a collective voice bent on denouncing contemporary cynicism and reality.” The Coming Insurrection is a strategic prescription for an emergent war-machine capable of “spreading anarchy and live communism.” Written in the wake of the riots that erupted throughout the Paris suburbs in the fall of 2005 and presaging more recent riots and general strikes in France and Greece, The Coming Insurrection articulates a rejection of the official Left and its reformist agenda, aligning itself instead with the younger, wilder forms of resistance that have emerged in Europe around recent struggles against immigration control and the “war on terror.” Hot-wired to the movement of '77 in Italy, its preferred historical reference point, The Coming Insurrection formulates an ethics that takes as its starting point theft, sabotage, the refusal to work, and the elaboration of collective, self-organized life forms. It is a philosophical statement that addresses the growing number of those—in France, in the United States, and elsewhere—who refuse the idea that theory, politics, and life are separate realms.

30 review for The Coming Insurrection

  1. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Five fucking stars. With reservations. This book says some very unpopular things that happen to be very true. You will most likely disagree with me on this. The book is essentially a stituationist manifesto for the present day. It's a book that has seen the bullshit that the sixties produced, the harmless liberalism, snide little self-righteous products like Adbusters, feel good community programs where priveleged suburbanites descend upon poor neighborhoods and enlighten the savages in some kin Five fucking stars. With reservations. This book says some very unpopular things that happen to be very true. You will most likely disagree with me on this. The book is essentially a stituationist manifesto for the present day. It's a book that has seen the bullshit that the sixties produced, the harmless liberalism, snide little self-righteous products like Adbusters, feel good community programs where priveleged suburbanites descend upon poor neighborhoods and enlighten the savages in some kind of neo-liberalism colonization hegemony invasion, where minority rights has basically been more hegemonic bullshit that just means more of the worst white males represent in the world, but now being diffused to people with different skin colors and who are forced to pee sitting down, a world where the asthectics of discontent is now high art that can sit on a Park Ave coffee table, a la Bansky; and on and on. What all of these things have in common is that they are all safety valves of the 'system', the 'spectacle' or whatever catchy word one wants to use. This book basically says fuck all of that. Fuck community organizing, voting, buying enviornmentally aware organic grocery's, fuck all of it because getting really into anything like that is only returning one to the role of a consumer, a spectator, a cog? of the system that is so beyond fucked that now it expects part of the population to make things right again. And most of the population would love to step into that role, buy some recyclable bags, go to Green Markets, organizing some DIY workshop in a bad neighborhood, extol the virtues of riding a bike to your graphic design job instead of using public transportation and pray (or hope really hard) that things will get better; that Obama will save the day, that politics will miraculously change in a way that it never has in the past, and that everything will be better. I'm sounding much more cynical than I probably really am. The problems facing the world scare the shit out of me, but I don't believe in the idea that government will fix it, and I know that companies won't (no matter how green they are according to this weeks Newsweek). Why do I know this to be true? Why don't I believe that deep down Obama will be no better than any other president we've had, and that things will be just as fucked when the next asshole takes office? Because the whole system is held together by a collective delusion stronger than anything else ever. Flat-Earth Creationists believe in something more credible than the economy that our entire existence is based on (ok maybe not, but if not then they are equal in the nothingness lurking right behind their beliefs). You can't fix the economy, you can only induce the collective idea that things are now getting better. That the pieces of paper with nothing backing them up are now worth something more so we should spend more of them, etc., etc.,. I'm going all over the place here. Should I admit that I don't believe in government, or organizations for that matter? That I don't like leaders, I have no desire to lead, or be led? That I find myself to be mature enough to think for myself, and that potentially we all have that ability, and that if we all just matured in our thinking we could stop being assholes and be civilized to one another without the threat of coercion? Am I an anomaly that I don't feel an urge to go out and rape, kill and pillage, and that the only thing holding me back is the legality involved in it? Now this is basically the idea of anarchism, which is a much derided idea, and one that when I say I don't like being told what to do I'm usually treated like an angry teenager stuck in a punk phase; but I rather think of it as a quite mature way of seeing the world, one where I don't feel the need for a parent to keep an eye over me, and where I don't feel the need to be the overlording figure to someone else. I feel like I developed in a mature enough manner that I don't need to enact revenge on others for the overbearingness of my own parents (which they really weren't), and now try to be the important asshole with the most power on the block. I'm still going all over the place here. The book is called a "handbook for terrorism", but really it's a manifesto of sorts of how to live outside of the dominant society. It's in the same vein as Debord and company were writing about in the 1960's, and that Adorno was critiquing in his work; only it a move in another direction, knowing full well that the spectacle has an endless capacity to ingest dissent and make it part of itself. This book is a guide of trying to live on the fringes of the dissent and the importance of staying ahead of the powers that be if one doesn't want to just be safely co-opted. The terrorist aspects I'm guessing are towards the end, where they advocate learning how to fight, how to use weapons, and to arm oneself; because only by being armed can one then be a pacifist by refusing to use the weapons. Of course I'm just a consumer of this book. But it's still pretty inspiring. Ah, the reservations, I almost forgot this. The publisher of this book advocated the stealing of the book from bookstores, and staged a 'reading' (takeover?) at the store I work in that was guerrilla style. Of course they sent out press releases and alerted the media, and really only served to make a spectacle out of it all, and piss off employees at the store who they were kind of assholes to. Congrats Semiotext, and MIT for being exactly like what this book is railing against, a media event that is pushing a commodity, getting free publicity for your product that you will be paid for, no matter if the reader pays for or steals your book; and to boot you've been just like some entitled asshole and pissed on the people who work a job for very little money. Fuck you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Finished at last. In review of this inflamatory little tract, let me start off with some background. The Coming Insurrection has gained traction thanks to two readership groups. It is popular among anarchists as an expression of their thought and methods. It has also gained readership among the American "populist right" as a go-to treatise on "what the enemy thinks." For this we can thank Glen Beck. Say what you will about Beck, but he has actually made deeper discourse about his pet issues poss Finished at last. In review of this inflamatory little tract, let me start off with some background. The Coming Insurrection has gained traction thanks to two readership groups. It is popular among anarchists as an expression of their thought and methods. It has also gained readership among the American "populist right" as a go-to treatise on "what the enemy thinks." For this we can thank Glen Beck. Say what you will about Beck, but he has actually made deeper discourse about his pet issues possible by bringing such books as this and Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" to the wider public consciousness. So this book does three things: First it presents an anarchist analysis of the ways in which we are controlled within our current culture, and what those controlling structures are meant to conceal. Then it sets out a variety of tactics to oppose and undo the current culture and it's controlling mechanisms. Lastly (but also throughout the book too) it urges us not just to understand but to organize and act. According to the authors, we (persons outside the ruling elite) are subject to control by elitist society. We, as individuals, are isolated within a variety of "circles": these might be the enclosures used in ven diagrams, they might be fences to hem us in, they might be an image to make us recall Dante's circles of hell - I don't know exactly what is meant by the term. But the circles divert our attention toward false problems, isolate us from others, and neutralize our ability to think and act both independently and within independent groups outside the context of societal control. What do the circles conceal? Through the text it is suggested that it is the fact that our economic activity serves to perpetuate the power and wealth of the few. All these circles exist to blind us to that reality. Further, some of those circles (environmentalism for instance) exist to create new sources of wealth and control for the few. So what do the authors propose? Simply put, the control of the few should be broken by abandoning their values, destroying "their" economy (destroying the means of production and exchange), opposing all government, committing anonymous criminal and violent acts on a small scale until the opportunity to riot and burn on a larger scale comes. As soon as possible, the authors advocate that we join communes of people with whom we share common beliefs and likes. When a multiplicity of self sufficient communes arises in the city and country, a critical mass will be achieved to wipe away the current state, either through guerrilla war and rioting against local authorities, or through total disinterest in those authorities. In short, they advocate the 60's, hippies, and class war leading to Charlie Manson's utopia (but perhaps with less drugs and more intellectualism and solidarity, as befits French hippies). In judging this book, my thought is that the Invisible Committee underestimates the consequence of "the coming insurrection." If that insurrection comes to pass as imagined, there will be a lot of babies thrown out with the bathwater, literally. Productivity is undermined by the lifestyle of shoplifting, mooching off of welfare, and rioting whenever the opportunity arises. How do you figure the world can sustain the many mouths here if you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs - the common human productivity that has the potential to feed, cloth, and educate us all (not just the rich), and can allow man leisure and conquest of the moon besides? This book, if implemented, leads to an implosion of human productivity and a calamity of starvation and population reduction on a scale that only a Khmer Rouge or Ted Kazinsky could love. Or failing that it leads to a stalemate of perpetual war between "us and them" that hinder our productivity, limits our consumption, and hems in our future. The anarchists would create a malignant and limiting circle of their own. This isn't to advocate preserving the status quo. But the real problem with society isn't the need to destroy the productive order, but to alter the order of distribution. Yes, the circles are a problem, but the bigger problem is what the circles exist to protect... which is the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few, and the impoverishing and silencing of the many. Our institutions aren't bad in themselves, it's only that they are hijacked and turned against us. This is true even if those institutions have almost never been in the hands and at the service of the many. For those really interested in promoting the good of the many, maybe the better solution is not destroying the economic order but diverting it's profit and output to at least a greater service of public rather than private good. Taxation and reinvestment (if not welfare redistribution) seem like more useful vehicles than firebombs and shoplifting in the long run. Of course the right would find this contrary to the conservative religion of "economic fundamentalism." So to achieve this democratically we need to convince the wider public that such things as Galbraith's "Good Society" are possible and superior to the present order. Lastly, I'm giving this book five stars, not because I agree with everything in it, but because I've never read a better pamphlet in these times. This book ranks up there with Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Marx's Manifesto. I personally fault it only because it isn't Roosevelt's Four Freedoms. *** p.s. -- One late thought regarding the use of violence. A couple of years ago I saw a bunch of public school teachers protesting budget and job cuts when our new Gov. Scott (in Florida) decided to slash and burn the public sector. NOTHING whatsoever has come of those and following protests since. The school system is a wasteland of underfunding and underachievement, and the same goes for the rest of the public sector that has been raped to allow tax cuts that have produced ZERO of the jobs promised. I thought then, and am convinced now, that if the school teachers really want to get the Governor's attention they will have to set something on fire or blow something up. Not that I'm exactly encourage this... But frankly, I do think that it's an empirical sound observation that peaceful protest has achieved nothing and has been steamrolled by the police. Notice how the Occupy camps have been cleared from every city.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    a dear friend once told me: "ur on goodreads? u want to really have a laugh? try reading 1-star reviews of the coming insurrection"

  4. 4 out of 5

    Max Renn

    Some reviewers here have already said it and quite well. This is a situationist tract for the 21st century and it is less a plan or handbook than it is a sort of clear-eyed meditation. Think Hakim Bey's T.A.Z. shorn of its mysticism or the Unabomber manifesto written by someone who believes there is something to be salvaged in humanity. It is true, there are ideas here that are explored in depth and better elsewhere but i dont think that is this books purpose. This books value is as a "get on the Some reviewers here have already said it and quite well. This is a situationist tract for the 21st century and it is less a plan or handbook than it is a sort of clear-eyed meditation. Think Hakim Bey's T.A.Z. shorn of its mysticism or the Unabomber manifesto written by someone who believes there is something to be salvaged in humanity. It is true, there are ideas here that are explored in depth and better elsewhere but i dont think that is this books purpose. This books value is as a "get on the same page" transmission for people interested in and actively working towards solutions, written by people who have been on what passes for the front in the strange new sort of wars that are waged between corporate states and the people who live in them. It lays out many of the philosophical and practical predicaments facing serious changemakers and proposes possible work-arounds without elaborating on specifics. this is one of its strengths, as it allows for and indeed emphasizes localized autonomy worldwide. I have to disagree with the commenters who say that the final emphasis on communes is an error. the communes as defined in the book are not your parents communes but rather something along the lines of oaxaca, a workable, and less abstract form of connectedness. In fact it is this connectedness that shapes the primary intention of the book, that working towards a real and sustainable form of community that undoes the alienation of an increasingly mediated society is the first step towards a world we can actually live in. Sure, many of us will recognize the ideas and emotions in these pages, but it is good to sometimes to hear them out loud now and again and all at once.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Philippe Malzieu

    France live in a revolutionary nostalgia. Many people dream of a Great Evening when damned of the earth will remove their chains, the rich person will be hung with butcher's hooks, a new man will appear in a new era. And then there is this old French passion: the Trotskyism. All the media leader are old Trotskyist.There is thus this conviction that a small group determined is sufficient to take the power. This book goes in this direction. It is a genuine handy guide, including stopping a train. France live in a revolutionary nostalgia. Many people dream of a Great Evening when damned of the earth will remove their chains, the rich person will be hung with butcher's hooks, a new man will appear in a new era. And then there is this old French passion: the Trotskyism. All the media leader are old Trotskyist.There is thus this conviction that a small group determined is sufficient to take the power. This book goes in this direction. It is a genuine handy guide, including stopping a train. All must be ready for the moment favourable. The power is to be taken. The problem is not the existence of this book. It is that it is sold with more than 100,000 specimens. And the compost is favourable in France, weak power, poverty, unemployment and this strange third industrial revolution with a weak growth and perhaps a secular stagnation. I think that we can be legitimately anxious. I think there will be more and more violent incidents. This kind of book legitim It.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    In bad times, one must write manifestos. This is less than an active handbook for active resistance than an indictment, a prosecution, a rant. It has unreserved cynicism for not just the Negri-Imperial style of economic/political power, but also the easy comforting hedonism of the 1960s, and the 'organic' 'we can still enjoy the fruits of modern industry and extraction and not feel guilty about it' capitalism. Being as picky as I am, I'd like more citations than fancy rousing slogans, more action In bad times, one must write manifestos. This is less than an active handbook for active resistance than an indictment, a prosecution, a rant. It has unreserved cynicism for not just the Negri-Imperial style of economic/political power, but also the easy comforting hedonism of the 1960s, and the 'organic' 'we can still enjoy the fruits of modern industry and extraction and not feel guilty about it' capitalism. Being as picky as I am, I'd like more citations than fancy rousing slogans, more action than ignorant proclamation. Something substantial. But not necessarily violence. The sort of people who win through violent revolution are typically not those that you would rather have run a country. That is reserved for the very end, and they admit there is so much wrong with the present system, it's almost impossible to determine where to start, except smaller and on the local level - anarcho-communes. This is more interesting. As much I must disagree with this, I'm more tempted to agree with them the longer I watch the RNC's Policy Committee on C-SPAN.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    A remarkable book - the best recent expression to date of the 'rage against the machine' that has been emerging for some time at the margins of European life. This is an intellectual version of a rage that is usually focused on direct action. The bulk of the book appears, despite its claims to come from 'The Invisible Committee', to be drafted primarily by one highly creative and rather witty voice but the impulse here is precisely that fuelling riots in Athens on the one side and the laying of A remarkable book - the best recent expression to date of the 'rage against the machine' that has been emerging for some time at the margins of European life. This is an intellectual version of a rage that is usually focused on direct action. The bulk of the book appears, despite its claims to come from 'The Invisible Committee', to be drafted primarily by one highly creative and rather witty voice but the impulse here is precisely that fuelling riots in Athens on the one side and the laying of flowers at the home of attempted cop-killer Raoul Moat in Newcastle on the other. The Moat business confused as much as it horrified Middle England but it represented the alienation of many people who have no economic stake or position of respect within the global economy and yet are housed within its faltering motor, the Western capitalist democracies. A war of sorts is slowly gathering pace between these marginalised peoples and the authorities. The latter are mobilising the authoritarian petit-bourgeoisie just as the former seem to be learning how to connect and to co-ordinate outside the surveillance systems of a police force that is no longer theirs but often represents, through no fault of its own, the characteristics of an occupying power. France, as so often, is a central cockpit for this struggle. This book contains many allusions, not always fully explained, to clashes between the police and the disaffected, mostly in the suburbs of the big cities, that began even before the recent economic crisis and are clearly not fully or fairly reported to the rest of the world. This is a France where the shine has long since come off its President Sarkozy and whose own response to the slow motion breakdown of law and order is to mimic his neighbour, Silvio Berlusconi, by shifting to the populist Right as the middle classes get increasingly frightened. The last few weeks alone have seen the entire French political class uniting around a ban on the burqa that puzzles freedom-loving Anglo-Saxons in its intensity. On top of this, we have just seen an assault on the Roma which mimics a similar attack last year in Italy. The trajectory of unreported and intensive surveillance and policing of the suburbs is clear - do not allow these areas to become the source of Athens-style riots or, worse, the basis for the rise of anarcho-communist no-go areas like those of Hezbollah in Beirut or Hamas in Gaza. This is a struggle that is still being fought out on the margins of society rather than at the centre. It has its 'respectable' counterpart in the war over mass information, epitomised by Wikileaks' publication of secret US Government documentation and Iceland's remarkable decision to make itself what amounts to an anti-captalist safe haven. In this context, 'The Coming Insurrection' is a key text because it brings a nihilistic intelligentsia into direct contact with the marginalised through a theory (not specifically outlined in the text but on every page) of direct action. This first arose on the radical racist Right but has migrated across to the anarcho-communist Left almost seamlessly. This is the theory of 'leaderless resistance' and it is causing anxiety to the established Governments of the capitalist and semi-democratic West. My own assessment is that neither side can win in this war. The organisational resources and, as demonstrated both by the German State in the 1970s and by the Israeli State today, ruthlessness of the authorities will ultimately strip away every vestige of liberty, if deemed necessary, from the general population. States will use every possible trick of cultural manipulation in order to contain, criminalise and break the spirit of the rebels. The general direction of history may, in this respect, be like that of the Tsarist authorities in dealing with the Narodniks - a cycle of repression and terrorism that ends up with a defeat for both anarchism and the State. Just as with the Tsarism, if there is not some restraining liberal influence (which, fortunately, we believe is the case), the process of breaking the back of revolt not merely degrades the ethical claims of the State (which are pretty dodgy anyway) but raises the sense of something being profoundly wrong amongst sufficient sections of a powerless middle class that a certain sympathy will emerge for the marginalised, even at their most brutal. A refusal to judge and, in some quarters, a shift into the marginalised camp offer unknown threats and consequences to the existing system. The problem is one of money and modernisation. The resources of the State are much greater than that of the rebels but are still limited and the necessity to strut on the world stage and get a share of world trade conflicts with the necessity for investment in the marginalised zones along local, regional and national lines. What 'leaderless resistance' does is give permission for anti-social behaviour to become political action against a system with, as this book makes clear, the aim of seizing territory through communal action. The destruction of the tools of the existing system is undertaken through actions that are so random and 'unled' that the authorities have no specific place to clamp down and so must commit to arbitrary action and injustice to make progress. It is deliberately provocative. As for the book itself, published in 2007, it was apparently the prime piece of evidence in a somewhat dodgy anti-terrorism trial of nine persons in France in 2008, and is now freely available in translation, distributed by no less than the MIT Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in an act that, like the widespread publication of the Unabomber Manifesto in its time, indicates that the 'safety valve' of freedom of speech in the Anglo-Saxon world still continues to operate. The introduction can be skipped. It is different in style and content and lacks the literary panache of the rest of the book. The bulk of the book is a witty and coruscating analysis of modern Western culture that, bluntly, is just about right. On about every page, the nihilistic author peels away the magic and the illusions and the delusions of late capitalism with a 'bon mot', a 'mot juste', a phrase that might come to be in book of quotations. Read these chapters and you may be horrified but also enlightened or you may simply throw the book away in disgust as a devout Christian might throw away Lavey's 'Satanic Bible'. The problem with the book is the obvious one - where does it take us in practice?. Its analysis of what is wrong with contemporary culture may be nihilist but it is depressingly accurate. Again, it reminds one of the analyses by the Russian Nihilists of the combination of comic opera and brutality that was Tsarist Russia. But the book falters in the last fifth when it tries to turn this analysis into a plan of action, a plan that does not have anything of the organisational 'nous' of the Catalonian Anarchists or, say, the Zapatistas. Certainly, the authors of this text are doing that traditional French thing of revelling in their own intellectual abilities and command of language - these are people who have read their Foucault - but there is no sign that they actually understand the workings of power. Nor do they appear to have learned anything from history or show any sign that they could match the ability of the Zapatistas or even Hamas to manage the instruments of late capitalism, such as the media, to survive, prosper and serve their communities. The 'Invisible Committee's' policies of direct action are not only self indulgent at the ultimate expense of the marginalised but self-defeating. As Wikileaks has shown, the anarcho-libertarians who play the internet in an informational war that engages the middle classes and then splits them are forcing radical changes in state action that actually reduce their ability to undertake brutal and oppressive actions. The anarcho-communists behind this text are simply seeking a self-immolation that will destroy the very tools that they use against the system. The inheritors of their strategy are not likely to be libertarians at all but the same sort of revolutionary authoritarians that emerged in Russia in the wake of the collapse in 1917. In fact, for all the talk of 'internal contradictions' amongst Marxists (foes of the anarcho-communists), capitalist democracy remains exceptionally adaptable and fluid. The sort of war that allowed communism to emerge is unlikely and, if it did take place, China and India would implode long before the United States. So long as the US stands 'free' (whatever that may mean), liberal capitalism, even if socialised to a degree, has its stronghold. But this book is a highly recommended text because if the authorities do not understand that the rage against the machine is real and justified, they will eventually be doomed to irrelevance. Technological and associated cultural changes are making authoritarian solutions more difficult to sustain. Instead of provoking authority into tyranny, the anarcho-communist are likely to exhaust authority into coming to terms with liberty so, in that sense, they may be doing us all a service. The Invisible Committee's 'leaderless communal resistance' will not transform the West into what appears (when you analyse it) to be some strange quasi-agrarian but urbanised collaborative and sustainable community of equals (which really means warlordism and anarchy in the popular sense). Their actions will merely prolong the agony by giving an excuse for repression that cannot be sustained - an alternative 'bourgeois' libertarian resistance is emerging at multiple levels to the presumptions of State, religious and cultural authority in any case. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is the central section that goes into a direct attack not merely on the 'progressive' trend (clearly exploited by authority in its foreign policy) but the popular environmentalist movement. The 'Invisible Committee' (perhaps with a dash of paranoia but also with some justice) sees this as the creature of the next stage of capitalist enslavement, the means of making us all willing workers in dismantling a failed system in order to build one that will be more effective in its control of us. There is some merit in this idea which works against the grain of the growing identification of environmentalism and anarchism, certainly in the Anglo-Saxon world. The ecological industries do seem to be built on a framework of increased regulation and centralisation of power and there is no doubt that the European Union as a project has seized control of environmentalism, following German state priorities, in order to enhance its power against nation states. Meanwhile, the surveillance and tracking systems that late capitalism clearly considers absolutely essential to managing the movement of goods and services cost-effectively seem to cross-link with ease to the tracking of persons required by the security structures of the state and thence to the monitoring of personal use of energy and of individual's waste management. The environmentalist movement provides the security structures and capitalism with a far more effective ideological buttress for its actions in Europe than security - the reverse of the case in North America. But whether eco-obsession or fear of terrorism, the constructed mythologies of both, reaching to almost religious proportions amongst the less intelligent in both territories, converge in the creation of massive infrastructures for individual surveillance and management across the West as a whole that are not so very different from those that might have been employed in a more technologically advanced Soviet Empire. As the Invisible Committee puts it: "The new green asceticism is precisely the self control that is required of us all in order to negotiate a rescue operation where the system has taken itself hostage. Henceforth it is all in the name of environmentalism that we must all tighten our belts, just as we did yesterday in the name of the economy." To be crude, this is effectively saying that we are like people who have been persuaded to organise the cattle trucks to take us to the camps and so save the authorities the trouble. There is merit in this argument since the ability of states to manage culture and opinion has advanced a great deal over the last thirty or so years. There is another aspect of the book that surprises. It is ostensibly of the 'Left'. Anarchism is traditionally of the Left and its enemy is the State but the most coruscating attacks are not only on the progressive and environmentalist movements but on the official organised trades union-based Left. The assumption is that fascism (linked to the State) is the enemy but the ideology behind the book has oddly traditionalist and conservative aspects. There is a belief in place and personal association (only an edge off tribalism), a surprising and not clearly explained rant against cultural relativism and an end-game that may be similar to Marx's withering away of the state but could equally be a post-modern version of the agrarianism and small tribe mentality of the followers of former Leftist and now Right theoretician, Alain de Benoist. Indeed, since there is no real provenance for the authors, we have to be highly suspicious that the author merges his Foucault with some understanding of De Benoist to create something that is not so much beyond Right and Left as subversively New New Right from the perspective of any establishment Socialist who is in collaborative alliance with the new eco-capitalism. This is part of a much wider trans-valuation of values in Europe. Official Socialists and the anti-Islamist universalist Rightists merge their aspirations with the security State while both the radical Right and the anarcho-Left move into the position of street resistance and localism. The difference is that the Left (including the Invisible Committee) have no place for racial or ethnic questions of difference or any radical differentiation between gender roles. The Invisible Committee clearly support the rights of migrants and has no sense of nationality in the way that it has traditionally been used to buttress the State. Nevertheless, its ideology of place and personal association, as well as of direct action and of violence, is not a million miles from those less hidebound and more intelligent European Rightists with a critique of modern capitalism and a sympathy for traditionalism that extends to respect for, say, Islam and so for Hamas and Hezbollah. This is a tension and internal contradiction within the 'resistance' (or insurgency) that has yet to work its way through the 'system'. The balance of 'leaderless resistance' protest is different in different countries - from Athens and the Latin world (where it is quite definitely on the Left) to the Anglo Saxon community (where it tends to the quasi-racist Right). But the real reason to read this book is for its literary merit, often for its wit. It is my belief that it will be an underground classic that will be seen as having, albeit in extreme terms, captured the mood of a time. It will inspire an 'attitude' of resistance to authority that, in very many small ways, may ultimately and positively bring the authorities to heel and into alignment with the general mass of people's expectation that they should serve its interest and not the institutional interests of politicians, lobbyists, corporations, bankers, unions and churches. So here is a taster of the mood of the moment, as applicable to the marginalised of the Anglo Saxon world as that of France ... " From Left to Right,it's the same nothingness striking the pose of an emperor or saviour, the same sales assistants adjusting their discourse, according to the findings of the latest surveys. ... In its very silence, the populace seems infinitely more mature than all these puppets bickering amongst themselves about how to govern it." " The weak, depressed, self-critical, virtual self is essentially that endlessly adaptable subject required by the ceaseless innovation of production, the accelerated obsolescence of technologies, the constant overturning of social norms, and generalised flexibility. It is, at the same time the most voracious consumer, and paradoxically, the most productive self, the one that will most eagerly and energetically throw itself into the slightest project, only to return later to its original larval state." " We have arrived at a point of privation where the only way to feel French is to curse the immigrants and those who are more visibly foreign. In this country, the immigrants assume a curious position of sovereignty: if they weren't here, the French might stop existing." " The aura that surrounds Mesrine has less to do with his uprightness and his audacity than with the fact that he took it upon himself to enact vengeance on what we should all avenge .... the open hostility of certain gangs only expresses, in a slightly less muffled way, the poisonous atmosphere, the rotten spirit, the desire for a salvational destruction by which the country is consumed." " The couple is like the the final stage of the great social debacle. It's the oasis in the middle of the social desert ... the utopia of autism-for-two." " ... we don't work anymore: we do our time. Business is not a place where we exist, it's a place we pass through. We aren't cynical, we are just unwilling to be deceived ... The horror of work is less in the work itself than in the methodical ravaging, for centuries, of all that isn't work: the familarities of one's neighbourhood and trade, of one's village, of struggle, of kinship, our attachment to places, to beings, to the seasons, to ways of doing and speaking." " The metropolis is a terrain of constant low-intensity conflict, in which the taking of Basra, Mogadishu, or Nablus mark points of culmination. ... The battles conducted by the great powers resemble a kind of never-ending police campaign in the black holes of the metropolis ... The police and the army are evolving in parallel and in lock-step." " We have to see that the economy is not 'in' crisis, the economy is itself the crisis ... The brutal activity of power today consists both in administering this ruin while at the same time establishing the framework for a 'new economy'" " There is no 'environmental catastrophe'. The catastrophe is the environment itself. ... they hired our parents to destroy this world, and now they'd like to put is to work rebuilding it, and - to add insult to injury - at a profit. The morbid excitement that animates journalists and advertisers these days as they report each new proof of global warming reveals the steely smile of the new green capitalism ... " " Tracking, transparency, certification, eco-taxes, environmental excellence, and the policing of water, all give us an idea of the coming state of ecological emergency. Everything is permitted to a power structure that bases its authority in Nature, in health and in well-being." " A civilisation is not an abstraction hovering over life. It is what rules, takes possession of, colonises the most banal, personal, daily existence ... The French state is the very texture of French subjectivities, the form assumed by the centuries-old castration of its subjects ... In France. literature is the prescribed space for the amusement of the castrated. It is the formal freedom conceded to those who cannot accomodate themselves to the nothingness of their real freedom." " There is no 'clash of civilisations'. There is a clinically dead civilisation kept alive by all sorts of life-support systems that spread a peculiar plague into the planet's atmosphere." So there we have it ..

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eric Bauer

    An utter piece of trash. A bunch of people with no lives pushing for the cause of socialism or communism (it's hard to tell at times) based on no facts and terrible logic and sweeping generalizations. This is the book that is supposedly inspiring widespread violent protests in Greece, France, and London, and may possibly have an impact in some circles here in America in the near future.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Myles

    If you stapled together four hundred deeply cynical French fortune cookie fortunes, you might end up with something like this tripe, which relies on slogans, speculation, and some oddly translated half-logic that probably sounds better after a few snifters of Calvados.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    All you have to do is look at what is happening in Greece to see what is wrong with the ranting of this text. Socialism plus a call to arms; if you believe in this "stuff" then it and you are scary.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This essay is more a poetic indictment of post-industrial civilization than an advocation of a coherent political program. As poetic indictment of contemporary living it's very elegant and astute; as political program -- insofar as its rather romantic elaboration of communes could be said to constitute one -- it's suggestive at best, naive at worst. (Anyone remember running into all those books from the '70s detailing the train wrecks that became of many a 1960s' commune??) If it's true that the This essay is more a poetic indictment of post-industrial civilization than an advocation of a coherent political program. As poetic indictment of contemporary living it's very elegant and astute; as political program -- insofar as its rather romantic elaboration of communes could be said to constitute one -- it's suggestive at best, naive at worst. (Anyone remember running into all those books from the '70s detailing the train wrecks that became of many a 1960s' commune??) If it's true that the authors of The Coming Insurrection (also of the French Tiqqun journal? -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiqqun ) were inspired or influenced, at least in part, by Giorgio Agamben's 1990 book The Coming Community, then the shift from "community" to "insurrection" is no doubt where all the controversy lies. For Agamben, it was enough to speculate that "tanks will appear" whenever whatever-beings "peacefully demonstrate their being in common," as opposed to being subjectivized by a State. But The Invisible Committee wants an actual revolution, not to just summon tanks, and are more in line with the political (vs. philosophical) legacy of the situationists' anarcho-Marxism. The I. C. also seems to share with Hardt & Negri a sense that all of social life has now become, at least potentially, the grounds for contesting the existing capitalist order; and to the I. C.'s credit, at least, they're upfront about the precariousness of their position (for example, echoing the situationists: "Nothing appears less likely than an insurrection, but nothing is more necessary"). Rightly or wrongly the French government seems to have taken The Invisible Committee at their word, arresting several in the group based on little or no evidence of any actual crime (see, for example, G. Agamben's public defenses of the authors: http://notesforthecomingcommunity.blo... ; http://notesforthecomingcommunity.blo... ). It's not surprising that Fox News has used the English publication of the essay (by MIT Press, of all venues) as an opportunity to freak-out ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKyi2q... ) -- whereas in the main text violence is discussed in the context of self-defense, and even acknowledged as a losing strategy, in-itself, when it comes to fighting State power, its last page includes a rather crazed invocation that "...A company manager is inspired to blow away a handful of his colleagues in the middle of a meeting..." That's hardly "revolutionary" in any constructive sense, and even contradicts the much more sensible position on violence (as last resort) expounded in the earlier sections. If the I. C. were to turn their rather vague* allusions to communes into some sort of conscious dual-power strategy ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_power ), including a coherent position on violence, then they couldn't be so easily dismissed as "terrorists" -- that they might be seems at least partially to be their own doing. *For example, the I. C. claims that, in their view, "communes...would not define themselves -- as collectives tend to do -- by what's inside and what's outside them, but by the density of the ties at their core..." (p. 102). That sounds promising, although pragmatically speaking, and especially in a genuinely revolutionary situation, that sort of vague distinction is really a subtle form of proto-defeatism. (Unless their sense of "civil war" is acknowledged to be a perpetual condition, every actual political revolution will eventually define its outside, ipso facto, for better or worse.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ted Heitz

    Thankfully, this falls short on inspiration. Unfortunately, it is a seed being planted worldwide in misdirected youth. Premise is a new call to action to intentionally invoke crises that the "left" control in a way where they come out in power. Communism run rampant. Read if you're already established and strong willed as an American. It's a peek in the mind of the enemy at best.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard Kelly

    Well, this book has a bad reputation with law abiding people and it has a good reputation with... the others. It kinda deserves neither. The book itself is writting poorly more like someone who feels they are better than everyone else. It just feels somewhat pompous. But this is not the kind of book you read for its literary merits. The information could be dangerous in a way. It talks about how to think during urban warfare, why you should try to overthrow a government, why you should form polit Well, this book has a bad reputation with law abiding people and it has a good reputation with... the others. It kinda deserves neither. The book itself is writting poorly more like someone who feels they are better than everyone else. It just feels somewhat pompous. But this is not the kind of book you read for its literary merits. The information could be dangerous in a way. It talks about how to think during urban warfare, why you should try to overthrow a government, why you should form political gangs err... communes. So if someone was to read this and live by it, it could be dangerous. But on the other hand this is only a guidebook for organizational situations. There is nothing in there about how to do anything. Nothing to tell you how to avoid police, how obtain firearms, how to raid, loot, pillage... It is kind of a pep rally for wannabe revolutionaries. But beyond its contraversy there are some interesting ideas in the book. Questions about how economics could work without money back to a barter-ish system. How free riding is ok since it is exploiting a supposedly corrupt system. Why it is that ideas win wars rather than battles... Some of these really got me thinking, but left me with shallow answers that are easily refutable. It avoids the questions I wanted to pose to it. What about civillians that are ignorant? How do communes exist after the system has been destroyed? What kind of economic system can withstand the barter-ish society you seem to desire? But these are not addressed. Overall it is an interesting read that could corrupt the minds of those too immature to question the claims the authors make. And since I don't know my European history, it references many things that required extensive research to fully understand. Not really recomended unless this is your type of book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lesliemae

    I read this work as an academic exercise in manifesto composition. The exercise was simply to read the manifesto and emulate its style with regard to something that resonates with your own experience. As the Invisible Committee was made up, obviously, of more than one individual writing - we needed to be in a group of at least three writers, writing simultaneously (once launched with a topic) that we then cobbled together into our manifesto. This was our final product: We're sipping scummy pints I read this work as an academic exercise in manifesto composition. The exercise was simply to read the manifesto and emulate its style with regard to something that resonates with your own experience. As the Invisible Committee was made up, obviously, of more than one individual writing - we needed to be in a group of at least three writers, writing simultaneously (once launched with a topic) that we then cobbled together into our manifesto. This was our final product: We're sipping scummy pints of cloudy beer in the back of trendy dive bars turned patio agoras in the heart of Kensington Market. Kensington "a global village in the heart of the city." That's its tagline. All you see are a steady stream of hipsters descending from their condos at Bay and Bloor to dress like the homeless and sit in dilapidated chairs and drink $5 black coffee from dirty and chipped cups. A gang of hippiesh grunge-punk types crowd around each other and collectively scoff at the smoking laws of the shop by sneaking puffs of “fuck-you,” reveling in their perceived rebellion as the haggard staff look on without the slightest concern. There's nothing here but a dearth of authenticity. It's grown into a municipal phenomenon that forces its pupils to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Don't worry, we've got enough self-aggrandizing rhetoric to make you barf. Global village in the heart of the city - be sure this isn't about culture anymore - it's about using capital to purchase empty authenticity, education and rebellion. We need a true rebellion and at least attempt to play truant. You know, hop a few fences and cut through the industrial wasteland of a nearby condo development. The dust and sediment from the concrete falls as the inexhaustible store of so many of our lost deeds, shoddy occurences - from nine to five, to six. Not one death, but many come to us each day: dust, traffic, and constant motion. We heed the siren call and are drawn through the half-built condos towards the music of the spheres, "what branches grow out of this stony rubbish"? Orpheus looking for Eurydice in the new lakefront developments or drawn into the mire of the suburbs. A little death with fat wings enters each of us like a short blade and siege is laid upon us by bread or 435 square feet on the 38th floor - all of us weakened waiting for death. A brief and daily death. A clammy sensation of doom. Our yuppie future should be surrounded by quotation marks, and if we're lucky, flip this life and land in the Annex - whatever that means admist the ominous dwindling each day. We'll drink down this black cup: scummy, cloudy, chipped and trembling while it drains. And tomorrow we're reborn in filling that cup again. Or, rather, we'll proffer it to the moguls and gurus and gods in skinny jeans, the Urban Outfitters ad-execs and second hand opinion slingers that generously produce so that we may consume. And they will fill up that cup, and slap a FairTrade sticker on it so that we may accept it back with gratitude and easy conscience before we slink behind the white pickett fence of irony and misplaced nostalgia we picked up off craigslist for, like, super cheap. Behind the fence a kernel of desperate nothing. A void to fill or be filled. Missed Connections (http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/mis/) is our great assembly, where we speak in a blind argot and make a spectacle of relation. We are all owls, watching from our nest of Bag Lady Chic, casting aspersion on those too caught up in a different machine to notice our ethical superiority. We'd never own it, but there's a sartorial eugenics at work in our scathing deconstructions of the passerby. Ours is the master race; ours is the empty set; we built a social network and no one came. The ethics of exclusion begins with excluding yourself. Just a body vote, where horses can trample you down in a G20 fervour. The waxing and waning of a disillusioned slide. Are you willing to set fire to this state building as the ancient knights once demanded the grain harvests from merciless overlords? Where is our prophet of immediacy? Our apostle of the spirit? We can feel the curse of the poet, as when he cries out in Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal: "If rape and poison, dagger and burning,/ Have still not embroidered their pleasant designs / On the banal canvas of our pitiable destinies, / It's because our souls, alas, are not bold enough!" We sing this song for Baudelaire, this prayer for the wild at heart, trapped in cages, this homage to the practice of everyday life. We walk through these streets but can imagine that a polis only rises up with the correct vocabulary. The heiroglypics of sight have betrayed us for too long, fixed and calcified as they are into this form, this image, this Cartesian universe of a history of shit, of beings not knowing how to grow upward or old, while forsaking Neitszche's pleas, "I want to love and perish that an image not remain a mere image." We smash your false idols and demand an appreciation of reality, of place, of space, of being, of relations and what it means to us by experiencing rather than conjuring an image whose function is only primal, visual, and as empty Ronnie's patio on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We are no passive spectator as we can read into this universe a scene that is constantly exploding. Read the uncomprehended violence and silent sadness of every suburban commuter, who sailing homeward in his metal ship christened TTC, who upon viewing the shimmering surfaces of the ink-stained asphalt, forgets forever the monastary of meaning tabernacled in this opaque surface of life. We resist and gather assured that the night's many tongues will carry our cries. We demand a manifestation of our inner life. We belive at the heart of every second is a narrow gate, through which the Messiah could enter. Our eyes are turned toward Camus as we hack away at the frozen oceans within us to find our invincible summer, the spring of our awakening. We stand now as the virtue of differentiation. A differentiation taken so far that it can no longer bear its own difference, can no longer bear anything but the universal, freed from the humiliation of isolation. Our language, as a last resort, is opposed to its service in the realm of ends. Within our opposition we represent the idea of a free humankind - breaking down the walls of individuality through a consummation of the particular, a sensitive opposition both to the banal and ultimately also to the select. Our speech becomes the voice of human beings between whom the barriers have fallen. We cannot be silenced, our language is shared and expresses the implicit yearning for a world in which poetry is spoken as the "language." We believe when Keats murmurred across the centuries to “Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness.” We perform an un-ravishing of language that has been defiled by the uses to which it is so often put in the service of relations of utility. Poets not dialecticians, born free from tyranny. Our words from hence forward will no longer deconstruct, but serve as our restoration. Representation over and on top of Will, both human, both alive, both heralded onward from the heart of all poetry: a quietness, to which we remain both simultaneously wedded and unravished. Our message is simple: Only by reverently, addressing this bride as a “thou” can we hope for her to respond.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn Woagh

    This book, this treatise, does what other political treatises try to do, but more effectively and without so much of the atroprop. The invisible comittee very fluently translates our world and recent history into words which may reach not just the ones who already know about these conditions and coming insurrection, but also to those who may wonder a bit at what is happening around them and what they can do to help hasten the fall of the authority. While I didn't understand a lot of the references This book, this treatise, does what other political treatises try to do, but more effectively and without so much of the atroprop. The invisible comittee very fluently translates our world and recent history into words which may reach not just the ones who already know about these conditions and coming insurrection, but also to those who may wonder a bit at what is happening around them and what they can do to help hasten the fall of the authority. While I didn't understand a lot of the references to france-specific issues and events, nearly all of the problems the comite criticises and talks about here apply to my own experiences, and perhaps in relation to industrial-western-consumerist societies, and the growth of globalisation - an entity resisted by the most effective insurrectionaries. The manner given to envisioning the coming insurrection is abstract enough to benefit multiple types of peoples and ideologies. With detailed topics on the necessity of 'communes-everywhere' and what that means, of the importance of organized invisibility, and on and on, I was able to greatly further the development of my own frustration, experiences, and directions for the future from what I learned in this treatise. This work is very beneficial to any sort of proletariat, budding radical, self-teacher, and anyone who wants vital information on what the world is, what the people in it need, and some simple steps on heading into that better future. The writing, the evolution of anonymity and its effective actions, the highly-quotable content, the applicable suggestions of tactic and strategy, the repression of this work and the state-kidnapping of alleged writers, has me with a sense of confidence of this book's significant importance now and in history. I have wondered, for example, how older forms of writings and organizing policies such as those found in marx, mao, che, and any other radical and strategist, would exist and function best today. How can a group organize and gain members when if it is visible it is either redundant or more easily destroyed, and how can a group function anonymously in an effective and non-hierarchal way when the very essence of an organization being underground is its typically-isolated nature? These writings summarise the possibilities, the needs, the basics, and I see this work as a necessary evolution in the significant radical literature which will pass through time as another significant spark to a seething mass seeking and fighting for that wonderful future.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trane

    I love a good revolutionary polemic and The Coming Insurrection certainly fits the bill with its fierce rejection of mainstream Left political solutions and its cry for revolutionary anarcho-communalist insurrection. There are several incisive critiques leveled in this text — though they don't really break much new ground if you've mixed a bit of the anarchist canon in with your Adorno, Marcuse, Foucault, Debord, and etc. The Coming Insurrection is at its best when critiquing the way in which or I love a good revolutionary polemic and The Coming Insurrection certainly fits the bill with its fierce rejection of mainstream Left political solutions and its cry for revolutionary anarcho-communalist insurrection. There are several incisive critiques leveled in this text — though they don't really break much new ground if you've mixed a bit of the anarchist canon in with your Adorno, Marcuse, Foucault, Debord, and etc. The Coming Insurrection is at its best when critiquing the way in which organizations associated with leftist politics have allowed themselves to be co-opted by larger political structures of economy and control. It's not so hot when it begins to offer up solutions — banlieue rioting may indeed be both a sign of formations of community outside of the control of the state and a model for communal formations, but it offers absolutely no vision of what those communities should do, or be for, other than resistance. There's also a strange kind of tension in this text between a desire to be universal — "the coming insurrection" is portrayed as an event that will happen on a worldwide level, though perhaps not all at once — and a desire to reject universal forms via the specificity of place and community. There are also some laughable misapprehensions about some of the 'structures of feeling' that exist outside of the French milieu that cast some doubt on the authors' grasp of the conditions on the ground outside of the borders of la belle France. When the book states that in the United States "they revere work," that seems like a bit of a stretch. Similarly, when Japanese otaku culture is given as a model of work resistance, you have to wonder what sources The Invisible Committee has at hand. In any case, a worthwhile read and a great conceptual hammer, though as an actual manual of insurrection it's vague enough about tactics that I'm surprised the French government has gone so far as to deign it a manual for terrorism. For a more concretely conceptualized model of the potential form that an anarcho-syndicalist society might take, I recommend Ursula Le Guin's novel The Dispossessed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    There are those among us whose goal is to disrupt and decompose civilization as we know it. What would they replace it with? Well, communes. Communes with no real leaders or government -- just a bunch of people doing their own thing. First of all, these deluded young people who think this might be a good idea don't really understand anything about human nature, the purpose of government, or society in general. They are angry hopeless youths who don't care about anything or anyone. How did they g There are those among us whose goal is to disrupt and decompose civilization as we know it. What would they replace it with? Well, communes. Communes with no real leaders or government -- just a bunch of people doing their own thing. First of all, these deluded young people who think this might be a good idea don't really understand anything about human nature, the purpose of government, or society in general. They are angry hopeless youths who don't care about anything or anyone. How did they get that way? is the question I asked myself as I read it. This booklet (132 pages) is disturbing and sad. The first seven chapters talk about everything that's wrong in the world. The last three give tips on how to insurrect in your town. (Power to the communes!) It's not casual reading, but it gives a little insight into the mind of an anarchist, if that kind of thing interests you. When you see the upheavals going on in the Middle East and Europe, it's a reminder that a very small group of people can create a huge problem for the rest of us; and this kind of behavior is growing and spreading. Pay attention. It won't be long till it comes to a neighborhood near you. See my complete review at http://cathyf.org/bookrev_coming_insu...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    C If this book had been a 5 page article or a zine I would have enjoyed it. As it is i got about 4/5 pages worth of information from 60 pages of book. I learned just about nothing new in terms of theory or praxis, other than that insurrectionists fucking love to wax poetical. I'm not saying there's nothing useful here, or that insurrectionism has no place, but wading through 60 pages to get "don't fight the cops head on" and "decisions make themselves given enough information" is just not worth i C If this book had been a 5 page article or a zine I would have enjoyed it. As it is i got about 4/5 pages worth of information from 60 pages of book. I learned just about nothing new in terms of theory or praxis, other than that insurrectionists fucking love to wax poetical. I'm not saying there's nothing useful here, or that insurrectionism has no place, but wading through 60 pages to get "don't fight the cops head on" and "decisions make themselves given enough information" is just not worth it. No idea why this book is so popular.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    This book left me pretty creeped out. It's hard to believe there are really people this delusional. I also find it hard to trust anyone who thinks socialism and scamming the government are the answers to all the world's problems.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Yoel

    white radicals' wet dream

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Obrigewitsch

    Revolution is not to come, nothing to be awaited - it is a way of existing, in response to the crisis, the political catastrophe, that the world has produced of itself, that we have produced of, or as, the world. What remains to come is the proliferation of insurrectionary responses - the active affect of our affectation in the midst of this collapsing socius - as a negation that opens the possibility for a coming community. The catastrophe, the downward turn of disaster, is upon us - its coming Revolution is not to come, nothing to be awaited - it is a way of existing, in response to the crisis, the political catastrophe, that the world has produced of itself, that we have produced of, or as, the world. What remains to come is the proliferation of insurrectionary responses - the active affect of our affectation in the midst of this collapsing socius - as a negation that opens the possibility for a coming community. The catastrophe, the downward turn of disaster, is upon us - its coming is here in having already come to pass, effacing the present of itself and its presence. Collapse embraces us, and we must come in turn to embrace collapse. This is the only means of breaking free from this destitution of the political, of existence, that we are entwined in. We must decide upon the undecidable, and abandon ourselves and our world at present, devoid of presence, by altering everything. We must die unto what we are, or else we must perish. This work, then, offers a critique of our capitalist world, and some suggestions for unworking it so as to work ourselves out of its bind. It affirms a strain of anarchistic communism, though perhaps a bit too emotionally charged (not to suggest a dispassionate response would be any better, by any means), and not reflective enough in its strategies. To exist in revolution is to unearth the anarchic arché which undergirds our existence, and to maintain its opening or disclosure as an existential possibility requires a thoughtful engagement with the exilic world that the Committee seeks to bring forth. In terms of thought, this work is a bit too irresponsible - for despite what it suggests, anonymity does not dissolve responsibility, it only displaces it. The responsibility then falls upon no one, and thus calls to us all to answer for it. This work is on the way to something, only it makes a faux pas, a mis-step, in its speculative journey. The main failing of this book comes down to its denunciation of philosophy. This is what seems to seperate it from the works of Tiqqun - a too quick refusal of the history of thought which it plunders as it sees fit, assembling an abortion of a position worlds apart from, say, Deleuze's monstrous bastardizations or heresies. Perhaps the Comitee meant by "philosophy" the theory of academia, for they surely could not be foolish enough to believe that action alone can produce revolutionary change. Action devoid of thought is but reactionary violence, which has no lasting effect. Marx was well aware that revolutionary action must be underwritten by revolutionary thought so as to transform the human, and lacking either element it is doomed to failure. Action without thought is base and animalistic; thought without action is sterile and dead. Animality must confront this deathly element and embrace it, be transformed by it, in order to create a true revolution. This engendered the breaking away of the human from the mere animal, and it is the only path for the capitalistic animal, the human, to open out onto whatever it is to come, that as yet remains beyond it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    Finally, an excellent short take on hard left radical self-organization. It's french so it still delves into theory far more than it should and only treats praxis as a rhetorical device, but I really liked the idea of assemblies as new modes of communal existence rather than decision-making apparatuses. Absolutely worth a read if you're doing any serious leftwork.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    It's at its best when going into detail about tactics and strategy, it's at its worst when pontificating about abstractions like the regular rants about "network organization" and whatnot. Basically a necessary but not sufficient book for really getting us towards "the coming insurrection".

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Allison

    I hope to write like this one day.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm

    ‘The Invisible Committee’, many of whom attained a larger than expected public profile as ‘the Tarnac 9’ when the French Government charged plotting to blow up train lines, mount a powerful argument to stop waiting for social change for the better and start making it. One of the things commentators on this manifesto are prone to say is that this book was a key part of the evidence in the unsuccessful prosecution of the Tarnac 9 (this statement is also made at the outset of this edition); all thi ‘The Invisible Committee’, many of whom attained a larger than expected public profile as ‘the Tarnac 9’ when the French Government charged plotting to blow up train lines, mount a powerful argument to stop waiting for social change for the better and start making it. One of the things commentators on this manifesto are prone to say is that this book was a key part of the evidence in the unsuccessful prosecution of the Tarnac 9 (this statement is also made at the outset of this edition); all this does is make reading the book seem a little dangerous and grants the book a degree of notoriety, but I suspect more importantly distracts from the sharpness and subtlety of the case being made here. The critical case, the critique of the existing social order made in this manifesto, builds on seven principal areas. The first is the construction of individuality/individualism as the atomisation of social relations, which in turn has a set of social and psychological effects. The second, related, aspect relates to this atomisation to highlight that this individualising drive undermines the possibility of a collective response to atomisation. The third turns to the problem of work as a taken for granted aspect of political and social goals to argue that the issue is not that there is not enough or that it is poorly paid but that a focus on improving the conditions of work obscures the potential for more fundamental forms of change including less work. In the fourth, the authors turn to the habitual distinction made between city and country to argue that for many (I presume they mean in the global North) this distinction is false because the interweaving of ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ economies means much of our lives are metropolitan with the dangerous dependencies that leads to. This, then, turns in the fifth critique to a challenge to the subversive potential of the digital economy (there are very faint but cognate shades here of Jodi Dean’s arguments about clicktivism, for instance). In the final two critical spaces they point to the problem of treating ecological and environmental struggles as a separate sphere and the need for a global political outlook. Don’t expect detailed explorations of these issues – this is a manifesto and each of these sections is little more than 2000 words if that – but do expect passionate arguments with intriguing connections being made between economic, social and cultural factors that are often seen as distinct. The authors then outline a political programme based around three forms of action – to find other like-minded people and organise while at the same time being aware of the self-perpetuating proclivities of organisations; to organise in a way that both allows political struggle to develop (so, for instance, by minimising the demands of work) but while also remaining concealed or discrete; and finally to build an insurrection that works locally to undermine power, that maintains broad networks with like-minded people, that liberates space to build new ways of being, that avoids direct confrontation with the forces of power and authority, while also being prepared to stand up to them if needed. There is much in the detail to disagree with, but although quite a bit of it is drawing on the specific characteristics of the French context there is also much to provoke, challenge, inspire new ways to thinking and acting. My major concern is that a significant strand running through the analysis and programme is one of withdrawal not only from existing institutions but from most institutions. It is, as a result, hard to see where a multi-faceted politics of struggle lies and as a result how, given this tendency to withdrawal, people are recruited to the struggle. The authors, properly, make the point (on p12) that “revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance” but the tactics of institutional withdrawal seem to make the resonance more difficult. I am not saying that there should not be separate institutions of struggle (or that their membership and practice should not be either discrete or secret) but that if there are only separate institutions it is hard to see how the struggle/insurrection can grow. The re-emergence of new forms of activism in the last ten years or so and the intensification of economic, social and political crises have produced a wave of manifesto writing. With their starting point being that the economy and environment are not in crisis but are the crisis, the Invisible Committee have developed one of the more interesting manifestos we have to help develop and build new politics, but we need to make sure we read it with full attention to the nuances and subtleties implied by their tactical proposals.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dachokie

    Cowardly Rebels without a Cause ..., April 12, 2010 The best thing about the book is that it is brief and somewhat entertaining. The worst thing about the book is that there will inevitably be a handful (or more) that will worship every word of every disorganized chapter ... an follow through with its instruction. Essentially, this is a call to anarchy by who? A group of disgruntled STUDENTS so distraught with the way of the world that they feel the need to convince others (of lesser "intellect") Cowardly Rebels without a Cause ..., April 12, 2010 The best thing about the book is that it is brief and somewhat entertaining. The worst thing about the book is that there will inevitably be a handful (or more) that will worship every word of every disorganized chapter ... an follow through with its instruction. Essentially, this is a call to anarchy by who? A group of disgruntled STUDENTS so distraught with the way of the world that they feel the need to convince others (of lesser "intellect") to sacrifice themselves for the will of a few. The defining question that is never truly answered is: what credentials do the "brains" behind the "coming insurrection" have that give them the ultimate (moral) authority to determine the future of millions? The book is "organized" into chapters, called "circles" (for some apparent reason) that attempt to explain (convince?) the reader that the current world is unacceptable and must be changed to suit the beliefs of the authors (who are currently jailed in France). The final quarter of the book is dedicated to instructing the mindless minions who fall for the authors' pleas on how to organize and implement the "insurrection" that will enable change. The book is heavy on emotion and lacking in credibility. A recurring theme throughout the book is an utter disdain for work/jobs ... but why? Is it a perceived lack of a viable economic future for these authors? After all, what do college students truly know about working for a living to take such a negative viewpoint? Sure, they attempt to support their cause by cherry-picking historical events throughout, but I find some of their references dubious (the "white supremacist lynch-mobs roaming the streets" of post-Katrina New Orleans). The reference of the Masquis during the German occupation in World War II was also questionable ... mainly because the death toll from German repraisals were never even mentioned. Nothing like recruiting soldiers for the cause without informing them of the potentially catastrophic/deadly consequences. Throughout the book, I wondered whether the authors were truly serious or just pining to re-create oft-glamorized events from the past ... like the radical 60s in the US. Then I wondered what type of individual(s) would actually take the bait the authors are presenting. By the end of the book, I felt that I had both of these questions answered. First, I believe the book is an emotional cocktail of fantasy and frustration ... with a serious intent. Second, I truly believe that those likely to follow the books instruction are younger, naive, misinformed, with little life-experience and no direction ... in other words, those destined to be followers. The same types that fill the ranks of most cults and radical groups. We've seen this before. As a matter of fact, there are groups like this all over the world ... but not all of them write books. In the end, I believe it important to take the contents of this book serious enough to be aware that such groups do exist, can be dangerous and are attempting to galvanize strength. But I also take comfort in believing that the majority of people are smart enough not to follow the instructions of a few disgruntled people that protect themselves behind the cowardly cloak of anonymity.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Schexnayder

    This is the self-destructing blueprint of Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street. The media has presented these protestors as the "best" of America, but many of these oh-so-earnest activists, railing against the evils of Wall St., don't seem to realize that they're being played. The goal, as stated here, is some idyllic fantasy world composed of spiritually gentrified communes. It is communism, of course, but the not the old, flawed, stale varieties with its police brutality and bureaucratic buffoonery This is the self-destructing blueprint of Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street. The media has presented these protestors as the "best" of America, but many of these oh-so-earnest activists, railing against the evils of Wall St., don't seem to realize that they're being played. The goal, as stated here, is some idyllic fantasy world composed of spiritually gentrified communes. It is communism, of course, but the not the old, flawed, stale varieties with its police brutality and bureaucratic buffoonery. No, this is the "newer", "better" communism which will liberate the world by somehow commingling, sifting, mixing, pureeing even, the masses of humanity, allowing them to connect in ways they simply can't imagine right now. At least that's the concept that the Invisible Committee ever so articulately fails to explain, or dare I say, understand. For you see, understanding is not really a prerequisite, just have faith that communism will "work" this time. But all of that poppycock doesn't really matter either. What's really important to Anon, to OWS, to the Invisible Committee is the common thread running through all of the psychotic malice they exhibit as they delightfully plan the destruction of our modern society, lashing out at all the leisure and quality of life capitalism has managed to bring to the West in spite of constant attempts at socialism. You see, if we spent our whole lives working, and working in ways they see fit, bereft of all the traditional anchors of the Western ethos, family, faith, duty, honor, well then life would be so much more meaningful. You'll see, after everything is laid to waste. Oh, you will see...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Craig Keen

    I really like this book. It is better than "four stars" would indicate. Perhaps it would have been fairer to give it five stars. I think the only reason I would not do that is that the prescription for a new world seems to be still subordinate to the world as it stands, even if it is a disruptive one. However, the analysis of our world strikes me as very faithful to the world I live in. The hope for na anarchic mode of intimate sociality is also really right, I think. This is a very quick and ho I really like this book. It is better than "four stars" would indicate. Perhaps it would have been fairer to give it five stars. I think the only reason I would not do that is that the prescription for a new world seems to be still subordinate to the world as it stands, even if it is a disruptive one. However, the analysis of our world strikes me as very faithful to the world I live in. The hope for na anarchic mode of intimate sociality is also really right, I think. This is a very quick and hopeful read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Troy Richter

    This book is so emotionally explosive. It furthered my insights into the tradition of the French hating work, which is such a rich tradition and makes for very powerful and interesting literature. I feel that this text offers no final solution to capitalism, that it is more of a romanticism amongst the ruins and it is beautiful in that sense. The phrase "flee all milieus!" really resonated with. I feel that escaping the system is more of a romantic project than dismantling it or attempting to br This book is so emotionally explosive. It furthered my insights into the tradition of the French hating work, which is such a rich tradition and makes for very powerful and interesting literature. I feel that this text offers no final solution to capitalism, that it is more of a romanticism amongst the ruins and it is beautiful in that sense. The phrase "flee all milieus!" really resonated with. I feel that escaping the system is more of a romantic project than dismantling it or attempting to bring it to accountability.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Faye

    This book is a long, revolutionary poem. I suggest you read it aloud. I generally only give five stars to books that really challenge or outright change my thoughts on a subject. This book has challenged, and with more thought may change, my thinking about negative growth, pacifism, and the environmental movement - to name a few. There is plenty to critique here, but I think that the discussions this book starts are crucial.

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