The “free world” is not free and the “communist world” is not communist. The old proletarian movement failed to overthrow class society, notably by being deflected into reformist or totalitarian bureaucratic variants of classical capitalism. Everywhere people are still alienated from their own activity — what they are forced to produce returns as a power against them — and consequently alienated from each other. The modern development of capitalism has given rise to a new stage of this alienation: the spectacle, which monopolizes communication between people around what is presented to them, from “information” and vicarious adventures to images of exalted commodities or bureaucrats.

But this system has not resolved all its contradictions; over the last couple decades new struggles have arisen in all the regions of the world contesting various aspects of it and tending to reject bureaucratic mediation. The fundamental project ultimately implied by these struggles is the abolition of the state and all hierarchical power, of the commodity economy and wage labor. The technological preconditions for such a transformation already exist. The form of social organization capable of bringing it about has been prefigured in the workers councils that emerged in the revolutions repressed earlier in this century: democratic general assemblies of workers and others who rally to their project, assemblies that dissolve all external power and federate with each other internationally, electing delegates to carry out specific tasks who can be recalled at any moment.

Such a revolution cannot be furthered by manipulative methods that reproduce the dominant hierarchical relations. The task of revolutionaries is to contribute toward the self-consciousness, autonomy and coherence of radical struggles without themselves becoming a new “leadership” that would dominate those struggles. Because of this, and because “constructive” opposition tends to become integrated into the system, appropriate tactics are to a large extent “negative” or critical — attacking the institutions and ideologies that reinforce submission to the system, pointing out the shortcomings and possibilities of struggles against it — leaving people to choose their own way of responding to the situations thus exposed.

It’s a matter of confronting the real world we live in; of linking theory and practice in experimental activity so as to resist the tendency of theory to petrify into ideology. Whatever of positive value has been expressed in art or religion can be realized only by superseding them as separate spheres, by bringing creativity and the search for fulfillment into play on the terrain of everyday life. “In a society that has destroyed all adventure the only adventure is in the destruction of the society.”

April 1979


Reprinted from Public Secrets: Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb.

No copyright.

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