The Revolution of Everyday Life

Raoul Vaneigem

Chapter 21


Power is the social organization which enables masters to maintain conditions of slavery. God, State, Organization: these three words reveal well enough the amount of autonomy and historical determination there is in power, three principles have successively held sway: the domination principle (feudal power), the exploitation principle (bourgeois power) and the organization principle (cybernetic power) (2). Hierarchical social organization has perfected itself by desacralisation and mechanization, but its contradictions have increased. it has humanized itself to the extent that it has emptied men of their human substance. it has gained in autonomy at the expense of the masters; (the rulers are in control but it's the strings that make them dance), today, those in power are perpetuating the race of willing slaves, those whom Theognis said were born with bowed heads, they have lost even the unhealthy pleasures of domination. Facing the masters/slaves stand the men of refusal, the new proletariat, rich in revolutionary traditions. From these the masters without slaves will emerge, together with a superior type of society in which the lived project of childhood and the historical project of the great aristocrats will be realized (1) (3).

-- 1 --

In the Theages Plato writes: "Each man would 1ike if possible to be the master of all men. Or, better still, God." A mediocre ambition in view of the weakness of masters and gods. For if, in the last analysis, the pettiness of slaves derives from the allegiance to their rulers, the pettiness of rulers and of God Himself comes from deficiencies in the nature of those ruled. The master knows alienation by its positive pole, the slave by its negative pole; total mastery is equally refused both of them.

How does the feudal lord behave in this dialectic of master and slave? Slave of God and master of men - and master of men because he is slave of God, as the myth would have it - we see him condemned to blend within himself the disgust and respectful interest that he has before God, for it is to God that he owes his obedience, and it is from him that he derives his power over men. In short, he reproduces between God and himself the type of relationship that exists between nobles and king. What is a king? A chosen one among the chosen, and one whose succession generally occurs as a game in which equals compete. Feudal lords serve the king, but they serve him as his equals in power, they submit themselves to God in the same way as rivals and competitors.

One can understand why the masters of old were unsatisfied. Through God they enter into the positive pole of alienation; through those they oppress, into its negative pole. What desire could they have to be God, knowing the boredom of positive alienation? And at the same time, how could they not want to rid themselves of God, the tyrant over them? The "To be or not to be" of great men has always been expressed by the question, insoluble in their epoch, of how to deny God, and yet preserve Him, that is, to supersede and realize Him.

History bears witness to two practical attempts at such a super session: that of the mystics and that of the great refusers. Meister Eckhart declared: "1 pray God to absolve me from God". Similarly, the Swabian heretics of 1270 said that they had raised themselves above God, and that, having attained the highest degree of divine perfection, they had abandoned Him. On another tack, the negative tack, certain strong personalities like Elogabalus, Gilles de Rais and Erszebet Bathory, strove, as one can see, to attain a total mastery over the world by the liquidation of intermediaries, those who were alienating them positively, their slaves. They approached the total man via a total inhumanity. "Against Nature". So the passion for an unbounded rule and the absolute refusal of constraints form the same single route, an ascending and descending road on which Caligula and Spartacus, Gilles de Rais and Dosza Gyorgy stand side by side, together yet separate. However, it is not enough to say that the integral revolt of slaves - I insist the integral revolt, and not its deficient forms whether Christian, bourgeois or socialist - unites with the extreme revolt of the masters of old. In fact, the will to abolish slavery and all its sequels (the proletariat, servants, submissive and passive men) offers a unique chance to the will to rule the world with no other limit than a reinvented nature, and the resistance of objects to their own transformation.

That chance is inscribed in the historical process. History exists because the oppressed exist. The struggle against nature, and then against the different social organizations of the struggle against nature, is always the struggle for human emancipation, for the total man. The refusal to be a slave is really what changes the world.

So what is the goal of history? History is made "under certain conditions" (Marx) by slaves against slavery. Thus it can only pursue one aim: the destruction of masters. For his part, the master never stops trying to escape from history, to refuse it by massacring those who make it, and who make it against him.

Some paradoxes:

1. The most human aspect of the masters of old resides in their claim to absolute mastery. Such a project implies the absolute blockage of history, and thus the extreme refusal of emancipation. That is to say, total inhumanity.

2. The desire to escape from history makes you vulnerable. If you try to flee you lose your cover, and are more easily attacked; a determined immobility can no more resist waves of attack by lived reality than it can the dialectic of productive forces. The masters are the sacrificial victims of history; from the height of the pyramid of the present, contemplating three thousand years of history, one can see them crushed by it, either in terms of a definite plan, a strict programme, or a line of force which allows one to conceive of a Sense of History (the end of the slave world, the feudal world and the bourgeois world).

Because they try to escape it, the masters slot themselves tidily in the drawers of history: they enter into linear temporal evolution in spite of themselves. On the other hand, those who make history, the revolutionaries, slaves drunk with total freedom, seem to act "sub specie aeternitatis", under the sign of the in temporal, driven by an insatiable taste for an intense life, pursuing their aim through various historical conditions. Perhaps the philosophical notion of eternity is linked with historical attempts at emancipation,.. perhaps this notion will one day be realized, like philosophy, by those who carry within them total freedom and the end of traditional history.

3. The superiority of the negative pole of alienation over the positive pole is that its integral revolt makes the project of absolute mastery the only solution. Slaves in struggle for the abolition of constraints reveal the moment through which history liquidates masters, and beyond history, there is the possibility of a new power over the things that they encounter, a power which no longer appropriates objects by appropriating people. But in the very course of a slowly elaborated history, it has been inevitable that the masters, instead of disappearing, have degenerated; there are no longer any masters, only slave-consumers of power, differing among themselves only in the degree and quantity of power consumed.

The transformation of the world by the productive forces was bound slowly to realize the material conditions of total emancipation, having first passed through the stage of the bourgeoisie. Today, when automation and cybernetics applied in a human way would permit the construction of the dream of masters and slaves of all time, there only exists a socially shapeless magma which blends in each individual paltry portions of master and slave. Yet it is from this reign of equivalent values that then new masters, the masters without slaves, will emerge.

I want in passing to hail de Sade. He is, as much by his privileged appearance at a turning point in history as by his astounding lucidity, the last of the great aristocrats in revolt. How do the masters of the Chateau of Selling assure their absolute mastery? They massacre all their servants and reach an eternity of delight by this gesture. This is the subject of 120 Days of Sodom.

Marquis and sans-culotte, D.A.F. de Sade unites the perfect hedonist logic of the grand seigneur badman and the revolutionary desire to enjoy without limitations a subjectivity which is at last freed from the hierarchical framework. The desperate effort he makes to abolish both positive and negative poles of alienation ranges him at once among the most important theoreticians of the total man. Its high time that revolutionaries were reading de Sade with the same care that they set about reading Marx. (Of Marx, as we know, the revolutionary specialists know mostly what he wrote under the pseudonym of Stalin, or at best of Lenin and Trotsky.) At any rate, nobody who wants to change daily life radically will be able from now on to ignore either the great refusers of power, or those masters of old who came to feel cramped in the power that God granted them.

-- 2 --

Bourgeois power fed on the crumbs of feudal power. It is crumbled feudal power. Eaten away by revolutionary criticism, trodden underfoot and broken up, (without this liquidation ever reaching its logical conclusion - the end of hierarchical power), aristocratic authority survived the death of the aristocracy in the form of parody, the pain-stricken grin. Awkward and stiff in their fragmentary power, making their fragment a totality (and the totalitarian is nothing else), the bourgeois rulers were condemned to see their prestige fall apart at the seams, rotted by the decomposition of the spectacle. As soon as myth and authority lost their credibility, the form of government could only be either burlesque terror or democratic bullshit. O look at Napoleon's pretty children! Louis Philippe, Napoleon III, Thiers, Alphonse XIII, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. Franco, Salazar, Nasser, Mao, de Gaulle... ubiquitous Ubus in the four corners of the world spawning more and more cretinous miscarriages. Yesterday they still brandished their twigs of authority like Olympian thunderbolts; today the apes of power glean no more from the social scene than a little dubious respect. Certainly, the absurdity of a Franco is still lethal - no-one would dream of forgetting it - but one should always remember that the stupidity of power will be a deadlier killer than stupidity in power.

The spectacle is the brain scrambling machine of our penal colony, The master-slaves of today are its faithful servants, the extras and stage-managers. Who will want to judge them? They will plead not guilty and in fact they aren't really guilty. They don't need cynicism so much as spontaneous confessions, terror so much as acquiescent victims, or force so much as herds of masochists. The alibi of the rulers lies in the cowardice of the ruled. But now everyone is governed, manipulated as things by an abstract power, by an organization-in-itself whose laws are imposed on the self-styled rulers. Things are not judged, they are just stopped from being a nuisance.

In October 1963 Monsieur Fourastié reached the following conclusions on the subject of the future leader: "The leader has lost his almost magical power; he is and will be a man capable of provoking actions. Finally, a reign of workgroups will develop to prepare decisions. The leader will be a committee president, but one who knows how to sum up and make decisions." (My italics). You can see the three historical phases characterizing the evolution of the master:

1. The principle of domination, linked with feudal society.

2. The principle of exploitation, linked with bourgeois society.

3. The principle of organization, linked with cybernetic society.

In fact, the three elements are inseparable; one cannot dominate without exploiting and organizing at the same time; but their importance varies with the epoch. As one passes from one stage to the next, the autonomy and the role of the master wane and diminish. The humanity of the master tends towards zero, while the inhumanity of disembodied power tends towards infinity.

According to the principle of domination, the master refuses slaves an existence which would limit his own. With the principle of exploitation, the boss allows the workers an existence which fattens and develops his own. The principle of organization classifies individual existences like fractions, according to their managerial or executive faculties. (A shop-steward would, for example, be defined in terms of long calculations involving his productivity, his representativeness, etc., as 56 per cent directing function, 40 per cent executive function and 4 per cent ambiguity, as Fourier would have said.)

Domination is a right, exploitation a contract, organization an order of things. The tyrant dominates according to his will to power, the capitalist exploits according to the laws of profit, the organizer plans and is planned. The first wants to be arbitrary, the second just, the third rational and objective. The aristocrat's inhumanity is a humanity seeking itself; the exploiter's inhumanity tries to disguise itself by seducing humanity with technical progress, comfort and the struggle against hunger and disease; the cybernetician's inhumanity is the inhumanity which accepts itself. In this manner, the master's inhumanity has become less and less human. A systematic extermination camp is far more horrifying than the murderous fury of feudal barons throwing themselves into gratuitous war. And what lyricism there still is even in the massacres of Auschwitz compared with the icy hands of generalized conditioning which the cyberneticians' technocratic organization reach out towards the future society, that is so close!

Make no mistake: it's not a matter of choosing between the "humanity" of a lettre de cachet and the "humanity" of a brain-washing. That's the choice between being hanged and being shot! I simply mean that the dubious pleasures of dominating and crushing underfoot tend to disappear. Capitalism formally introduced the need to exploit men without passionately enjoying it. No sadism, no negative joy of inflicting pain, no human perversion, not even the man "against nature". The reign of things is accomplished. In renouncing the hedonist principle, the masters have renounced mastery. It is the task of the masters without slaves to correct this self-denial.

What the society of production sowed is reaped today by the dictatorship of the consumable. Its principle of organization merely perfects the real mastery of dead things over men. Whatever power remained to the owners of the instruments of production disappeared when their machines escaped them and passed under the control of the technicians who organize their use. Meanwhile, the organizers themselves are gradually ingested by the charts and programmes which they have so carefully worked out. The simple machine wil1 be the leader's last justification, the last support for his last trace of humanity. Cybernetic organization of production and consumption must necessarily control, plan and rationalize daily life.

These small-time masters are the specialists, masters/ slaves who pullulate all over daily life. No one need worry, they don't stand a chance. Already by 1867, at the Congress of Basel. Francau, a member of the First International, was declaring: "We've been towed along by marquesses of diplomas and princes of science for far too long. Let's look after our own affairs and however inept we are we can't make more of a mess than what they've done in our name." Ripe words of wisdom, whose meaning grows as specialists proliferate and encrust individual life. Those who succumb to the magnetic attraction exercised by the huge Kafkaesque cybernetic machine are nicely divided from those who follow their own impulses and try to escape from it. The latter are the trustees of everything human, since from now on nobody can lay any claim to it in the name of the masters of old. There are only things falling at the same speed in a vacuum on the one hand, and, on the other, the age-old project of slaves drunk with total freedom.

-- 3 --

The master without slaves, or the aristocratic super session of the aristocracy. The master lost out in the same way as God. He topples like a Golem the moment he stops loving mankind, and thus the moment he ceases to enjoy indulging his pleasure of oppressing them. That's when he abandons hedonism. There is little fun just moving things around, dealing with being inert as bricks. With fine discernment. God seeks out living creatures with smooth palpitating flesh whose souls shiver in terror and respect. To confirm His own grandeur, He needs to feel the presence of His subjects, fervent in prayer, competition, cunning, and even insult. The Catholic God is quite good at lending out a little genuine freedom, in the manner of a pawnbroker. Like a cat with a mouse, He lets men alone, until the Last Judgment when He'll gobble them up. Then, towards the close of the Middle Ages when the bourgeoisie enters on the scene, we see Him humanizing Himself; paradoxically, for He is becoming an object, just as each man is. When He condemns men to predestination, Calvin's God loses the pleasure of arbitrariness: He's no longer free to crush whom He will, nor when He will. The God of commercial transactions, humorless, as cold and calculated as a discount rate, is ashamed; He hides away. Deus absconditus. The dialogue is broken. Pascal despairs. Descartes does not know what to do with a soul that is suddenly unattached. Later - too late - Kierkegaard will attempt to resuscitate the subjective God by resuscitating men's subjectivity. But nothing can bring God back to life once He has become in men's minds "the great external object"; He is definitely dead, turned to stone, like coral. Moreover, mankind, caught in the rigor mortis of His last embrace (the hierarchical form of power), seems doomed to reification, the death of what's human. The perspective of power offers our gaze nothing but things, fragments of the great divine rock. Isn't it according to this perspective that sociology, psychology, economics, and the so-called "human" sciences - so anxious to observe "objectively" - focus their microscopes?

What forces the master to abandon his hedonism? What prevents him reaching total enjoyment if not his position as master, his prejudice for hierarchical superiority? That renunciation grows greater as hierarchy fragments, as masters multiply and shrink in status, as history democratizes power. The imperfect enjoyment of the masters has become the enjoyment of imperfect masters. We have seen the bourgeois masters, Ubuesque plebeians, crown their beer hall revolt with the funeral festivity of Fascism. But there will be no more festivities among the masters/slaves, among the last of hierarchical man; only the sadness of things, a gloomy placidity, uneasy role-playing, the awareness of "being nothing".

What will become of these things that govern us? Must we destroy them? Given an affirmative, those best prepared to liquidate the slaves-in-power are those who've been struggling against slavery all along. Popular creativity, which neither lords nor bosses have managed to break, will never kow-tow to programmatic necessity and technocrats' plans. You might object that less passion and enthusiasm are aroused by liquidating an abstract form and a system than by executing detested masters; that's to see the problem in the wrong light, the light of power. Unlike the bourgeoisie, the proletariat does not define itself in terms of its class enemy; it brings the end of class distinction and hierarchy. The role of the bourgeoisie was uniquely negative. Saint-Just captures it superbly: "What constitutes a republic is the total destruction of what opposes it."

If the bourgeoisie is content with forging weapons against feudalism and therefore against itself, the proletariat, on the other hand, contains its own possible super session. It is poetry momentarily alienated by the ruling class or technocratic organization, but always on the point of bursting out. As the sole trustee of the will to live since it has felt to the full how intolerable is mere survival, the proletariat will break the wall of constraints by the breath of its pleasure and the spontaneous violence of its creativity. It already possesses all the joy to be had and all the laughter to offer. It draws its strength and passion from itself. What it is preparing to build will in addition destroy all that opposes it just as a new tape recording erases the previous one. The proletariat will abolish itself at the same instant that it abolishes the power of things, with luxuriance, a trace of nonchalance and the grace worn by the man who has proved his superiority. The masters without slaves will emerge from the new proletariat; not the conditioned robots of humanism that the self-styled 'revolutionary' leftist onanists dream about. The insurrectional violence of the masses is only one aspect of the proletariat's creativity, its impatience to abolish itself, as strong as its desires to carry out the sentence that survival pronounces upon itself.

I like to distinguish - a specious distinction - three predominant passions in the destruction of the reified order. The passion for absolute power, exercised over objects placed immediately at the service of men; without the mediation of men themselves. It's therefore the destruction of those hooked on the order of things, the slave-owners of fragmented power. "Because we can no longer stand the sight of slaves, we suppress them." (Nietzsche)

The the passion to destroy constraints, to smash the chains. As De Sade says: "Can lawful pleasure compare with the delights which combine far more piquant attractions with the inestimable joy of breaking social constraints and overthrowing all laws?"

The passion to straighten out a miserable past, to re-excite old disappointed hopes as much in each individual life as in the history of crushed revolutions. Just as once it was legitimate to punish Louis XVI for the crimes of his predecessors, so today there's no lack of passionate reasons, as it's impossible to take revenge on things, to wipe out the memory of the executed Communards, the torture of the peasants of 1525, the assassination of workers, revolutionaries hunted down and shot, civilizations obliterated by colonialism, so much pain in free souls from past misery that the present has never eradicated. The correction of history has become passionate because it is possible: to swamp the blood of Babeuf, Lacenaire, Ravachol and Bonnot in the blood of the hidden descendants of those who, as slaves of an order founded on profit and economic mechanisms, thought to put cruel checks on human emancipation.

The pleasure of overthrowing power, being master-without-slaves and righting the past is what lies uppermost in the subjectivity of each of us. In the revolutionary moment, every man is invited to make his own history himself. Freedom of realization as a cause, while ceasing to be a cause, always espouses subjectivity. Only such a perspective can loosen the riot of intoxicating possibilities and the giddy feeling when every delight is within the grasp of all.

-- * --

Take care that the old order of things doesn't collapse on the heads of those demolishing it. The avalanche of the consumable could drag us down in the final fall if people don't take care to arrange collective shelters against the conditioning of the spectacle and hierarchical organization; shelters from which further offensives will be launched. The micro societies that are now forming will realize the former masters' project as they free it from its hierarchical mould. The super session of the "grand seigneur bad man" will apply to the letter that admirable principle of Keats: "Everything that can be annihilated must be annihilated so that children may be saved from slavery".

This super session must operate simultaneously on three levels:
1. Super session of patriarchal organization.
2. Super session of hierarchical power.
3. Super session of the arbitrarily subjective, the authoritarian whim.

1. - Lineage contains the magic strength of the aristocracy, the energy transmitted from generation to generation. By undermining feudal mastery, the bourgeoisie was led against its will to undermine the family. And it acts the same way towards the organization of society... I've already said that this very negativity surely represents its richest, most 'positive', aspect. But what the bourgeoisie lacks is the possibility of super session. What would the super session of an aristocratic type of family imply? We would have to answer: the formation of coherent groups where individual creativity is totally invested in collective creativity and strengthened by it; where the immediacy of the lived present takes over the energy potential which in feudal times derived from the past. The relative weakness of the master paralyzed by his own hierarchical system brings to mind the weakness of the child brought up within the bourgeois family framework.

The child acquires a subjective experience of freedom unknown to any other animal species. but he remains for all that subjectively dependent upon his parents - he needs their care and their solicitude. What differentiates child from animal is that the child possesses a feeling of the continuous transformation of the world, or poetry, to an unlimited degree. At the same time he is denied access to the techniques that adults use most of the time against such poetry, for example against children by conditioning them. And when children, in their maturity, finally acquire the techniques, they have lost, under the weight of constraints, what made their childhood superior. The universe of the masters of old falls under the same curse as the universe of children: they have no access to the techniques of liberation. Consequently they are condemned to dream of world transformation and live according to the laws of adaptation to it. One was quite justified in believing that hierarchical organization was the best means of concentrating social energy in a world where that energy didn't enjoy the valuable support of machinery. But once the bourgeoisie develops highly effective techniques for transforming the world, then hierarchical power becomes anachronistic, and acts like a brake on the development of human power over the world. The hierarchical system, man's power over man, prevents the recognition of worthwhile adversaries, thwarting the real transformation of one's surroundings. Instead, it just saddles one with the need to adapt to the environment and conform to the state of things. That's why:

2. In order to smash the social screen that messes up our vision, we postulate the categorical rejection of any hierarchy within the group. The very notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat deserves attention. On most occasions, the dictatorship of the proletariat turns into dictatorship over the proletariat, and becomes institutionalized. Now, as Lenin wrote: "The dictatorship of the proletariat is a relentless struggle, both bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative, against the forces and tradition of the Old World." The proletariat cannot set up a lasting domination, since it cannot exercise a dictatorship that no-one wants. Conversely, the absolute need to smash the enemy obliges it to concentrate in its hands a strongly coherent repressive power. So it's a matter of passing through a dictatorship that itself negates itself, as the party "whose victory must also be its defeat", the proletariat itself. The proletariat, through its dictatorship, must immediately make its own negation its first priority. It has no choice but to liquidate, in a short space of time, bloodily or not as circumstances permit, those who stand in the way of its project of total freedom and those who oppose the ending of its existence as proletariat. It must utterly destroy them as vermin. Every single individual must root out the slightest inclination for prestige and the most trivial hierarchical pretensions, and raise against these roles a calm impetus towards authentic life.

3. - The end of roles means the triumph of subjectivity. Once this subjectivity is finally recognized and set at the center of concern, contradictorily it brings a new objectivity into being. A new world of objects, or, if you prefer, a new nature, will create itself out of the needs of individual subjectivity. Here too a relationship is established between childhood's perspective and that of the feudal masters. In the one as in the other, even though in a completely different manner, the possibilities are masked by the screen of social alienation.

Who can have forgotten? Childhood solitudes would open on primeval vastness, and every stick was a magic wand. Then we had to adapt, become social and sociable. The solitude was depopulated, the children chose despite themselves to grow old, and the vastness closed up like a story book. Nobody in this world completely escapes the sewers of puberty. Childhood itself is slowly colonized by consumer society. Those under ten join "teen-agers" in the great consumer family and grow older faster as "junior consumers'. It's impossible at this point not to feel the similarity between the historical dethronement of the masters of old and the growing decadence of the kingdom of childhood. Never before has the corruption of humanity reached such an intensity. Never before have we been so near and yet so far from the total man.

The caprices of the masters of old, the lords, were insidiously inferior to the whims of the child, for they demanded the repression of other men. Whatever subjectivity there is in feudal arbitrariness - as I choose I shall give you riches or death - is spoilt and fettered by the poverty of its realization. The master's subjectivity is only realized by denying the subjectivity of others, and thus by loading itself with chains; it chains itself by chaining others.

The child does not have this privilege of imperfection. In one fell swoop he loses his right to pure subjectivity. He's taunted with childishness, encouraged to behave like a grown-up. Any everyone grows up, suppressing his childhood to the point where cretinism and death pangs convince him that he's managing to live like an adult.

The child's game like that of the great noble, needs to be freed and given the honor it is due. Today, the moment is historically favorable. It's a matter of saving childhood and its sovereign subjectivity, childhood and the laughter which is like the rippling of spontaneity, childhood and its way of relying upon itself to light up the world, and the objects within it, in a strangely familiar light - by realizing the project of the masters of old.

We have lost the beauty of things, their way of existing, by letting them die at the hands of power and the gods. Surrealism's magnificent dream tried in vain to bring them back to life and suffuse them with poetry. But the power of imagination alone is not enough to shatter the framework in which social alienation imprisons things, for it doesn't return them to the free play of subjectivity. In the light of power, a stone, a tree, a concrete mixer, or a cyclotron are dead objects, crosses planted on the will to see them differently and change them. And yet, beyond what they have been made to mean, I know I shall find their exhilaration again. I know what emotion a machine can awaken when brought into the game, into fantasy and freedom. In a world where everything is alive, including trees and rocks, nothing is just passively contemplated. Everything speaks of joy. Subjectivity's triumph gives everything life; and isn't the fact that dead things exercise an intolerable domination over subjectivity really the best chance, historically, of arriving at a superior way of life?

What does it take? The realization in today's language - that is to say, praxis - of what a heretic once declared to Ruysbroeck : "God can know, wish, do nothing without me. With God I have created myself and I have created all things, and it is my hand that supports heaven and earth and all creatures. Without me nothing exists."

We must discover new frontiers. If the bounds of social alienation still imprison us, at least they no longer deceive us. For centuries men have remained before a worm-eaten door, piercing little pin-holes in it with growing ease. One kick is now enough to knock it down, and that's when everything begins. The proletariat's problem is no longer to seize power, but to put a definite end to it. On the other side of the hierarchical world, the possibilities come to meet us. The primacy of life over survival will be the historical movement which will unmake history. We have yet to invent worthwhile adversaries. It is up to us to find them, and to join them through the looking-glass of childhood.

Will we see men resume the cosmic communication that the first inhabitants of the earth must have known, only this time on a higher level reaching way above prehistory, and without the fearful trembling of early man defenseless before its mystery? In short, will men impose a human meaning on the universe which would most beneficially replace the divine meaning with which it was invested at the dawn of time?

And this other infinite, man as he really is? Could he not one day govern his body, this constant flow of nerves, his beautiful muscular system and his wayfaring through dreams? Couldn't the exploits of individual will finally freed by collective will get beyond the already sinister degree of control that police conditioning can impose on the human being? We know how to make a dog. a brick and a cop out of a man; do we know how to make a man?

We have never really believed our infallibility. We have left that claim - out of pride perhaps - to unalterable forms and wrinkled old men: power, God, the Pope, the boss, the others. And yet every time we refer to Society, God, or All-powerful Justice, we're really talking about our own power, even though, it's true, we are talking rather badly and indirectly. We are one step above prehistory. It's the dawn of another human organization, a society where individual creativity gives its energy free reign, to shape the world according to each individual's dreams harmonized by all.

Utopia? Get stuffed! How condescension drivels! Who doesn't behave as if this world wasn't the dearest thing he owned? Sure, there are many who've let go, and now fall as despairingly as once they held on. Everyone wants his subjectivity to win out: we must therefore base the unity of men upon this common desire. No-one can strengthen his subjectivity without others helping him, without the aid of a group which has itself developed a subjective center, a faithful reflection of the subjectivity of its members. The Situationist International is so far the only group to decide to defend radical subjectivity. Chapter Twenty-One of The Revolution of Everyday Life, by Raoul Vaneigem. First published as Traité de savoir-vivre a l'usage des jeunes gens, Paris: Gallimand, 1967. Translated by John Fullerton and Paul Sieveking, London: Rising Free Collective, 1979, and Donald Nicholson-Smith, Left Bank Books/Rebel Press, 1983. No copyright claims will be made against publishers of nonprofit editions. [Additional edits by, 1998]