četvrtak, 27. rujna 2012.

Mikkel Bolt & Jakob Jakobsen - This World We Must Leave: An Idea of Revolution

Dansko zamišljanje ideje revolucije. Filmovi, izložba, popratni materijali.
Revolucija zahtijeva radikalnu preobrazbu čovječanstva te razvitak novih žudnji i potpuno nekapitalističke životne svakodnevice.

film na Vimeu

This World We Must Leave – An Idea of Revolution investigates the desire for a different world inherent in the rebellious or revolutionary rupture with the prevailing order. The revolutionary event in which both criticism of the established and new perspectives for a different world are articulated. The exhibition is a total installation and presents three short films that describe stages on the path from alienation to the chaotic collapse of the prevailing order. The three films thus constitute a kind of journey out of the oppressive capitalist society into the revolutionary rupture and the moment when a shift takes place and the situation suddenly opens up and becomes the object of active transformation. In the revolutionary rupture the senses and the sensory are organized in new ways and the circumstances of life are redirected towards other forms of desire than those produced and satisfied by the society of the spectacle. The exhibition also presents a burning archive with material from a handful of history’s unfinished revolutions from the Paris Commune to the Situationist movement.

The title of the film 'This World We Must Leave' is taken from the French left communist Jacques Camatte, who wrote a text in 1973 entitled “Ce monde qu’il faut quitter”, in which he gives an account of how capitalism tends to subjugate not only society and the economy, but also culture, everyday life and the human imagination. Camatte’s critical analysis of the despotism of capital emphasizes the need for a radical transformation of mankind with a view to the development of a non-capitalist life. The short film, This World We Must Leave investigates and represents the desire for another world that is inherent in the rebellious or revolutionary rupture with the prevailing order: the revolutionary event which both articulates criticism of the existing order and presents a new perspective that reflects on how things could be organized in a different way.

'Communist revolution is complete revolution. Biological, sexual, social, economic revolutions are no more than partial attributes; the predominance of one is a mutilation of revolution, which can only be by being all.

Communist revolution can be conceived only if it is grasped through the history and paleontology of human beings as well as all other living beings. By grasping this we become aware that, if this revolution has long been necessary, it can now be realized. Earlier it was possible but not unavoidable. There were still other "human" paths in that they still allowed a human development; specifically, they allowed the externalization of human powers. Now almost everything has been externalized and plundered by capital, which describes the only path other than communist revolution: the total negation of human beings. Therefore we must understand our world; we must understand the despotism of capital and the movement of rebellion breaking out against it. This act of understanding which is taking place not only intellectually but also sensually (the rebellion is to a large extent bodily rebellion) can only be reached by rejecting the wandering (of humanity) and repressive consciousness.' - Jacques Camatte, The Wandering of Humanity, (Invariance Année 6, Série II No. 3, 1973. Published in English by Black & Red (Detroit) in 1975).

This World We Must Leave - An Idea of Revolution
By Mikkel Bolt and Jakob Jakobsen

Over the last ten years Denmark has witnessed a profound transformation of the political landscape. Previously, there was a small room for political debate and discussion, but over a short time it has become commonplace and acceptable to exclude a whole range of alternative ideas and expressions that do not merge easily with the prevailing order of prosperity and "white happiness'.
The public sphere is today marked by ritual flogging of alternative political positions, and the smallest flirtation with radical collectivist ideas can create problems, as we see it with the fool and member of parliament Ole Sohn, who was exposed in the media as a former communist (the idea of communism fits very poorly with his unconditioned support for the state capitalist party dictatorships such as DDR and USSR), or what has made it necessary for national radio journalist Jens Nauntofte to reject his former support for the Vietnamese resistance against American imperialism in the 1970s - a struggle of resistance that was entirely legitimate and backed by large segments of the population in Denmark at the time.
The intent of the hysterical McCarthyism that is prevailing in the media is crystal clear: to prevent any alternative ideas or dreams of another life. The political horizon is controlled and monitored. The intention is to maintain and defend an image that confirms everything that we already have. For "there is nothing to come after" as stated by the former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

It has become a security problem if there is anyone who is considering living their lives in a different way, or is dissatisfied with the way things are put together. Anything alien is therefore presented as a threat. The politics of fear is making sure that the active production of uncertainty is kept going. This legitimizes the behaviour of the state that criminalizes previously legal protest forms keeps giving the police a longer and longer leash. Today control and repression is the health of the state.
With the exhibition This World We Must Leave art historian Mikkel Bolt and visual artist Jakob Jakobsen are attempting to kick a hole in the clogged parody of a public sphere, as they examine the desire for something else, a revolution in which capitalism and its addictive structures are smashed.

The exhibition is a total installation that stages a revolutionary archive and three short films, which describes a passage from alienation to revolution. The three films represent a step out of the oppressive capitalist society and into the revolutionary rupture. The moment a break occurs, and things suddenly become the object of active transformation. The moment where it suddenly becomes possible to do things in a completely different way. Where it becomes possible to share the sensual in new ways and modify the conditions of life through other forms of desire than those the spectacular commodity society produce and satisfy.

MIKKEL BOLT RASMUSSEN is an art historian and writer. He teaches at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, Copenhagen University. He has published a number of books most recently Avantgardens selvmord (2009) and has published numerous articles on activism, the avant-garde, contemporary philosophy, the revolutionary tradition and totalitarianism in books and journals like Multitudes, Rethinking Marxism and Third Text. He is an editor of K&K and Øjeblikket and has edited several books including Totalitarian Art and Modernity (2010). Together with Jakob Jakobsen he has organised a series of seminars about Situationism, militancy and image politics in the People’s House in Copenhagen.

JAKOB JAKOBSEN is a politically engaged artist, teacher and activist. He ran the Copenhagen Free University from 2001 to 2007 (copenhagenfreeuniversity.dk), cofounded the artist run TV station tv-tv in 2004, and has participated in exhibitions all over the world including at Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Stedhalle, Zürich; Insa Art Space, Seoul; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; München Kunstverein, Munich; Wiener Secession, Vienna; Louisiana, Humlebæk, et al. In 2010 he made the exhibition Billed Politik at Overgaden - Institute of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen (billedpolitik.dk).

Contact: billedpolitik@gmail.com

Film script

Scene 1

“We were not able to chose the mess we have to live in – this collapse of a whole society – but we can choose our way out.” - C. L. R. James

There is nothing outside. There is nothing outside this world. Once, society said that this was as good as it can get. Now it just says that this is what there is. It can be good or bad, but there is nothing else. Capitalist society is what there is. It is endless. Capitalist society is endless. There is nothing else. Nothing but the huge body of capitalism, of which we are a tiny part. Which we reproduce every day. Again and again. Every day we recreate this enor- mous, indisputable, impenetrable body of control, oppression and dominance, from which it is impossible to distance ourselves. We are the body, it is us. Now and tomorrow. It is within us, we cannot get away from it, it has penetrated into us. There is no ‘us’ outside, there is no ‘me’ separate from capital. I am the image, the image is me.

Every day we recreate a totality that we cannot understand. We are all quite aware that the totality to which we are subjected only exists because we create it, and yet it appears to be beyond our reach, as if we were not helping to recreate it every single day. We have lost perspective.

I see myself lying flat on my belly, closing my eyes and falling asleep. And waking up and opening my mouth, and my tongue comes out. But I don’t wake up. I can’t wake up again. We all sleep the same sleep, from which we cannot wake up. We lie moving back and forth in the bed, but our bodies get more and more tired and slowly decompose, decay and wither. For sleep gives us no rest, we only become more afraid and completely desperate in order to finally fall asleep properly; sleeping and on our way to somewhere else. But there is nothing outside. The bad dream of modernism has become reality. Any kind of outside has been swallowed up and folded into the flicker of the spectacle.

Scene 2

“Not only has universal anarchy broken out among the reformers, but also every individual must admit to himself that he has no precise idea about what ought to happen. However, this very defect turns to the advantage of the new movement, for it means that we do not anticipate the world with our dogmas, but instead attempt to discover the new world through the critique of the old.” - Karl Marx

A: There is no peaceful revolt. There is no reason to glorify the use of violence; but violence is necessarily an essential ingredient in the foundation of a new society. It is therefore stupid and naive to imagine politics without violence, and there is undoubtedly always a need to answer back, to defend oneself and ensure the new. As when the Black Panthers armed themselves, or the Communards in Paris refused to be disarmed by the Government soldiers who tried to seize the city guns. The power monopoly of the state must be broken, and that is that! The French writer Alfred Jarry, who was often armed when he walked around in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, understood this. It didn’t mean that he fired his revolver, but he was armed and refused to accept the power of the police and the army. He understood that terror is the health of the state. When the conflicts only simmer under the surface, state annexation is less visible, but once the revolt comes and we are on the street together, then the army is brought in, and the state shows its terrorist nature.

B: But there’s no longer any so-called revolutionary movement here. There was once a movement that called itself revolutionary, but it disappeared and collapsed when it turned out that it was only a capitalist movement that helped to reorganize capitalist society, to optimize it. The European proletariat existed as a class from 1848 until 1968, when it definitively emerged that it was unable to handle the social conflicts of the modern world. At no time has the proletariat acted to abolish the monetary and state order. Instead they voted in Social Democrat fashion for worker’s consumption and are today hand-in-glove with the national democracies. Today it is the huge human masses in China, South East Asia, Africa and South America who are most active. If there is any subversive world-subject that can exert pressure, rebel against the prevailing supremacy and abolish work, money and the state, it is the ‘wretched of the earth’.

C: I don’t know where to begin. Here? Now? Where now? When now? Call it now. It’s now it’s happening! But what if it turns out that it wasn’t now after all, if we should have waited a little, were too quick off the mark? That we don’t have the energy for anything. No more questions. Now it’s happening. What will happen? What is to be done? No more analyses and deliberations. Time for action. Interpretation must be replaced by action. But is it conceivable that, after you’ve been active, after the action, when you have done something, you’ve just done the same, that nothing has happened. What if it turns out that I’ve just stayed where I was? Remained what I was. But nothing at all has happened. Maybe the only thing I have done is confirmed the way things are.

A: But the wretchedness is so comprehensive that the shit is falling apart. We are helping it on its way. Making it collapse. The goal is to make it all break down. To struggle against the existing order must mean to destroy it all and block communication, traffic and exchanges. The cybernetic network of the spectacle must be short-circuited. Its lines of communication must be smashed. That is where we begin.

B: But what is to be done? Do we actually know that? Is it clear? Vladimir Lenin’s solution – the creation of a small avant-garde of aware men who seize power and control the revolution – is surely no longer a solution? The Russian Revolution has to be the proof of the failure of that model. That much must be clear. It makes no sense to claim that you are building up the party of the proletariat. But what do we do then? Can we at all ask the question ‘What is to be done?’? Do we know what it means? And who is asking the question, or for that matter answering it? Isn’t it just a short-circuit that ensures that nothing at all happens? Maybe it would be better not to ask the question at all, to retract it, to cancel it. Withdraw it, slide away, evaporate.

A: There’s always a certain amount of passion in the revolutionary struggle for commu- nism. Always. Killing is of course not the same as communizing, the communist revolution undermines more than it eliminates. But to reject the use of violence, that is to renounce revolution.

C: All these questions and all these answers – or are they all questions? What can I do in the situation I am in? How should I move forward? Where do I go from here? Is it me? Is there anyone at all? Any me? Are there more of us? Any ‘we’? It’s enough to drive you to despair. I don’t even know what ‘we’ means. At any rate I’m not sure. Not of ‘I’ either. The truth seems to be that I am talking about things I know nothing about, that I’m not sure of very much, but that I am ... No, I’m not sure of that either. Or else I’ve forgotten it. Yet I won’t stop talking, I won’t shut up. I can’t. Not now. Now.

B: The thing is, there’s no revolutionary identity. In the society of biopolitical control it is the active renunciation of identity that is revolutionary. We throw out the predicates and stay well away from the so-called revolutionary subjects that only have a function in relation to power as the mirror-image of the police. It’s exactly what biopolitical power wants – to tie any resistance to so-called society, to paste the revolutionaries into the insane scrapbook of the ‘one society’ that power is always busy creating. It is absolutely necessary not to affirm any new identity; we are neither one thing nor the other, neither anarchists nor reactionar- ies, ‘Black Bloc’ nor hooligans. We can justifiably proclaim “We do not exist”. And you’ll never catch us. The bombs are already in place, and they blew everything up five minutes ago.

Scene 3

“2nd August 1914. Germany declares war on Russia. In the afternoon, to the swimming baths.”
- Franz Kafka

People stand talking together, discussing, gesticulating, many are laughing, some stand bowed over the groceries they have dragged from the supermarket out on to the road, while others try to set fire to a cash register that has been put in a supermarket trolley. A couple of dead policemen are floating around in the city lake. Yet another stretch of motorway has been ploughed up and planted with bushes and trees. Others have been filled with landmines. More and more soldiers are deserting. The director of Jyske Bank has changed sides and has blown up his bank. The banknotes are burning. The city streets are full of chaos and orgies.

This World We Must Leave: The Burning Archive

The Unrealized Revolutions
The perspective for This World We Must Leave is contemporary and forward looking. But the project also includes a historical dimension in the form of 'the burning archive' where we collect a series of revolutionary historical events - the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution, the Watts uprising, the Iranian Revolution and the Genoa G7 protests - as examples of how the desire for another world has broken through the thin surface of the existing order and has been allowed to float freely for a short period of time before being crushed by a counterrevolutionary wave intent on preventing a radical perspective from taking form.

The revolutionary events are integrated in an archive consisting of documents from the Situationist movement - paintings and printed matter - that is structured around six core concepts: The artistic revolution, self-organisation, critique of the spectacle, play, the lost children and the liberated city. In the 1950s and 1960s the Situationist movement attempted to launch an aesthetic transformation of the spectacular commodity society where images were holding a divided capitalist society together. Following Karl Marx and Georg Lukàcs the Situationists described capitalism as a reified and self-legitimating system controlling people who unconsciously were producing and consuming goods. The capitalist mode of production not only impoverishes the vast majority of the population but also creates a veil of fog it wraps itself in making it impossible to see that the capitalist mode of production is causing alienation and poverty. The capitalist system does not think in terms of free people, but only in goods. The commodity form is the constitutive principle of the social organization. Continuing the negative work of the revolutionary tradition and the avant-garde the Situationists wanted to abolish this misery.

The perspective of the historical events and the Situationist project is not unambiguous, since they have not only been an expression of a genuine emancipatory potential where another world became visible, but are also defeats in so far as the revolutionary intentions were never realized. The archive thematizes a series of historic defeats, where revolutionaries threw themselves into the flow of events and risked everything in an attempt to escape from this world and its addictive and alienating structures. The numbing bombardment of the society of the spectacle paralyzes the human consciousness, but fails to completely shut it down. As the German sociologist Oscar Negt and the German filmmaker Alexander Kluge write, there is always a kind of obstinacy that capital is constantly trying to expropriate and mediate but which remains outside of capital’s reach. These short and intense revolutionary moments are living on as non-realised potentials constantly haunting the prevailing order and frequently returning as the 'aimless' aggressions and self-destructive outbursts this world is so full of. There is thus a residue left that is manifesting it self in the small violent excesses of the everyday – when stones are thrown at the police or when supermarkets are plundered – or once in a while as revolutionary moments, where the misery of this world is challenged.

The revolutionary projects highlighted in the archive are not only historical defeats, they are also fundamental breaks with the prevailing socio-economic order and form in their own way the emergence of new forms of life practices and desires. They are, in other words open unresolved historical moments filled with utopian impulses, which were met with violent repression by the ruling order. In this way the archive outlines an underground history consisting of a series of revolutionary potentials that were never realised. The archive establishes the background of the three films, which represent stages in the revolutionary departure from this world.

Mikkel Bolt and Jakob Jakobsen

Revolutionary history

1871: The Paris Commune
For 72 days the inhabitants of Paris experiment politically, economically and socially with  revolutionary self-rule, instituting a number of far-reaching socialist laws, for example enabling education for girls and making it legal for employees to acquire the company they work for. The political experiment of the Commune was brutally suppressed by the French army and 30,000 Parisians were killed.

1917: The Russian Revolution
In February 1917, extensive strikes break out among workers in Petrograd and the Czar is forced to abdicate. Many workers form Soviets which take over production and serve as an important political force. In October the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin and Trotsky takes power in a coup. After a short time the anarchists and non-Bolshevik communists are excluded and the derailment of the revolution accelerates.

1965: Watts
After yet another example of racist police behaviour widespread unrest breaks out in the Watts district of Los Angeles. For six days people express their anger fighting with the police and looting widely. More than 600 stores are destroyed, and it takes 10,000 soldiers of the National Guard to calm the unrest. As a direct consequence of the Watts riots, in which blacks confronted racism and political-economic oppression, the Black Panther Party emerges as a black liberation movement.

1968: May '68
From May-June 1968 students and workers put the French government under enormous pressure through street rioting and widespread strikes. The workers leave their factories, and the students went to the streets blocking the all aspects of functional Fordist society. All the existing hierarchies are challenged. Over the next 45 years this brief explosion is transformed into neoliberal restructuring and the radical ideas of autonomy and self-management are transformed into managerial innovation and career development.

1978: Iran
Residents of a slum area in Tehran facing eviction attack the police. The events trigger a wave of demonstrations, strikes and sabotage actions. The regime’s retaliation is brutal and the army shoots thousands of demonstrators. The poor and unemployed join students, workers and women in enormous demonstrations in the streets of Tehran. The Shah is forced to flee, and in January 1979 Khomeini and the Marxist Fedai guerrillas share power. After a short time Khomeini eliminates the social and political experiments and establishes a dictatorial theocracy.

2001: Genoa
In July 2001 about 200,000 people are involved in protests against the G8 summit being held in Genoa under an immense police presence. Street battles take place outside the eight-meter high fence where the world's eight richest countries are making plans for further global neo-liberalisation. The Italian State smashes the demonstrations beating up demonstrators and journalists, one protester is shot and run over by a police car. The repression initiates the anti-rebellion regime of the ‘war on terror’ that makes possible the destruction of the anti-globalization movement through criminalization and terroristic counter-terrorism.

Revolutionary ideas

The Critique of the spectacle
In the society of the spectacle a divided capitalist community is held together through the dominance of images which colonize everyday life and our ability to understand life. Everyday life is reduced to survival and human desire is perverted by false commodity needs: Coca Cola equals thirst.

The Lost Children
The great revolutionary projects no longer exist. Modernism is over and today class struggle takes place as scattered protests where the lost children of the revolution smash a Tesco Express or throw stones at the traffic warden.

The Artistic Revolution
In the spectacular commodity society art carries a promise of happiness that can not be redeemed. Therefore, art has to be realised transgressing the separation between art and everyday. An aesthetic transformation of society in its totality must take place through direct and total democracy.

The false needs of capitalist society are challenged through experimental and playful activities. In the spectacular commodity society all needs are mediated through the commodity form and life is reduced to a postcard with no depth. Play is incompatible with the fragmented dead life of false needs.

The Liberated City
The city has become a place of work and consumption and nothing else. Unconsciously we move through the geography of the city in the same repetitive patterns without sensing the surroundings or each other. Home-tube-work-tube-home. The dead city should be filled with orgies and instigate other forms of life such as those we saw briefly in Hyskenstræde.

The paralysing effects of the spectacle have to be rejected in favour of the active and conscious production of life. The separation between everyday life and political action, between art and theory, has to be abolished. We reject the spectacle and take power of our lives. There are no leaders and no party – there is no program to be realized.

This World We Must Leave - theory

Jacques Camatte: The Wandering of Humanity

Guy Debord: The Culmination of Separation (Society of the Spectacle)
Herbert Marcuse: One Dimensional Man (One Dimensional Man)
Samuel Beckett: Texts for nothing #4

Monsieur Dupont: The Optimism of Revolutionaries, Language and Consciousness
Tiqqun: Theses on the Imaginary Party

Situationist International: Minimum Definition of Revolutionary Organizations
Mario Tronti: The Strategy of Refusal

Loren Goldner: The Biggest ‘October Surprise’ Of All: A World Capitalist Crash

Lenin: What Is To Be Done?
Karl Korsch: Ten Theses on Marxism Today

Walter Benjamin: The Destructive Character
Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or revolution?
Guy Debord, Attila Kotányi, Raoul Vaneigem: Theses on the Paris Commune

Jørgen Nash, Jens Jørgen Thorsen, Hardy Strid & Dieter Kunzelmann: Slogans painted in Møntergade
Theorie Communiste: Self-organisation is the first act of the revolution

Walter Benjamin: On the concept of history

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