Notes on Captivity

by ,

Fifth Estate # 284, July, 1977

“Few books today are forgivable. Black on the canvas, silence on the screen, an empty white sheet of paper, are perhaps feasible.”
— R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

I. Every Ideology Is

—a philosophy, a school: private property

—a substitute self-identity

—a barrier to life: mediation



—a projection of present concepts: defense against the future.

II. Specifics of Ideology in Decline

—the fate of situationism: mainly a return to orthodox leftism (e.g. economism, constant salivation over the impending crisis).

—also, the events in Italy (e.g. refusal of revolutionaries to delegate any authority) as outstanding critique of councilism (and critique of all politics).

—anti-authoritarianism trend? putrefaction of leninism. But prospect of a reconstitution of leftism via its reform and re-packaging? (e.g. Open Road: an ‘anti-authoritarian’ Rolling Stone, with its slick ‘unity’, carefully edited letters, etc.)

III. Our Lives, Not Our Words

—Emma Goldman: supported the Bolsheviks until state power was firmly won in 1921 (over, the bodies of the Kronstadt and Ukrainian revolutionaries); defended the state power in Spain (1936-7) and its policy of military efficiency (read: destruction of dissidents and collectives).

—Raoul Vaneigem: bourgeois professional (teacher, journalist); refused to let May, 1968 interfere with his going to the Riviera on vacation.

—Murray Bookchin: not only professor but college administrator; his latest commodity, The Spanish Anarchists, on sale for a mere $12.95.

IV. Directness. Acting Out of Our Personal Sadness and Rage with This Existence

—united opposition of left to spontaneity

—totalitarian regimes (e.g. China, Cuba) crush freedom and autonomy, but are forced to simulate their existence (lavish publicity for official demonstrations billed as ‘spontaneous’ and for pro-government ‘volunteers’).

—the persistent universality of looting, vandalism.

V. Today All Ideologies Smell the Same

—Oswald Spengler, peerless reactionary, ended his Decline of the West with: “A task that historic necessity has set will be accomplished, with the individual or against him.” How ‘dialectical!’ Compare with the central, determinist myth of the left.

—antidote: the transformation of the world that begins when we decide to form all our own ideas; the power of negative thinking.