05-03-2016 | Minor Quibbles

The first global slaughter, which from 1914 to 1918 did away with a large portion of the urban and rural proletariat, was waged in the name of freedom, democracy and civilization. For the past five years, the so called "war on terror" with its special operations and targeted assassinations have been pursued in the name of these same values.

Yet the resemblance stops there: at the level of appearances. The value of civilization is no longer so obvious that it can be brought to the natives as a package. Freedom is no longer a name scrawled on walls, for today it is always followed, as if by its shadow, with the word "security." And it is well known that democracy can be dissolved in pure and simple "emergency" edicts -- for example, the official restitution of torture in the US, or in France's Perben II law.

In a single century, freedom, democracy and civilization have reverted to the state of hypotheses. The leaders' work from now on consists of shaping the material and moral as well as symbolic and social conditions in which these hypotheses can be more or less validated, in configuring spaces in which they can seem to function. All means to these ends are acceptable, even the least democratic, the least civilized, the most repressive. It was a century in which democracy regularly presided over the birth of fascist regimes, civilization consistently rhymed -- to the tune of Wagner or Iron Maiden -- with extermination, and in which, one day in 1929, freedom showed its two faces: a banker throwing himself from a window and a family of workers dying of hunger.

Since then -- let's say, 1945 -- it's taken from granted that manipulating the masses, secret service operations, the restriction of public libraries, and the complete sovereignty of a wide array of police forces were appropriate ways to ensure democracy, freedom and civilization. At the final stage of this evolution, we see the first socialist mayor of Paris putting the finishing touches on urban pacification with a new police protocol for a poor neighborhood, announced with the following carefully chosen words: "We're building a civilized space here." There's nothing more to say; everything has to be destroyed.

The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, p. 85-86

cf. The Triple Revolution Memorandum

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