Still from Chornobyl 22, a documentary film by Oleksiy Radynski, 2023. Camera: Max Savchenko.

Issue #134
With: Svitlana Matviyenko, Boris Groys, Lyn Hejinian, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Mohammed Zenia, Thotti, Jason Waite, Gigi Roggero, Ben Ware

In this issue, Boris Groys charts the self-transformation of the working class through labor itself. Workers’ bodies, through their own labor, become spiritualized—artificial forms of their own creation. Since modernity, the working class, held up as a universal whole, has practiced “secular ascesis,” even if by exploitation and oppression. And where does this spiritualized dimension of the working class manifest itself? As art.

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10 Essays March 2023

We are often reminded today that “empires do not know their borders.” This speaks of ultimate uncertainty, and thus of the imperial urge for conquest, which is driven by paranoiac imperial certainty about a threatening outside. The Russian Federation claimed that they “had no choice” but to invade Ukraine and kill its people, which constitutes a complex and contradictory epistemological landscape that could probably only be deciphered through psychoanalysis.

What do humans do after a successful revolution? The traditional answer is: they become the new masters and begin to impose their will on the losers. Indeed, such is the usual historical dynamic. However, Kojève believed that the working spirit—or rather the spiritualized working body—could be victorious over the animal human body. In other words: he believed that after the proletarian revolution succeeds, proletarians will continue working. But they will not work merely to live or satisfy their desires; they will work to maintain the spiritualized life-form their revolution achieved.

Let this begin, precipitously disturbed. There: its only alternative now is to continue, which is to say: there’s no real alternative at all. Skepticism—doubt: it can prove liberating: SKEPTICISM, says the motto, WILL KEEP YOU FREE. But it can lead to a sense of hopelessness, impossibility; it can seem to promise nothing but dead ends and fatigue: SKEPTICISM WILL EXHAUST YOU. Ergo, says the logician, freedom is exhausting.

Two Poems from Village
LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs

digress :: journey to the bottom /of Bear Mountain Park’s tidal pool :: between wormholes / a girl is dancing w/ her eyes closed beneath mechanical surf / which way is up :: distancing downward :: is there any ooze /  that might ignite another reactionary freeze?

The feeling / Of / sinking // The ridiculous and / messy; the slow drip into / The other // (read either) / preening sighing, / emotional wallops / and manly grins / as if / somehow / through it all / Funk Flex was transference

Brazilian authority becomes trapped in producing potlatch after potlatch, transforming its legitimacy into a promise while constantly governing in the name of the exception, in the hope of consumption and expenditure, of enjoying a sacrifice so extraordinary as to erase its spurious and deficient character. It is this debt that allows the colonizer to coexist with the settler insofar as the colonizer can continue to explore, consume, and enjoy through the potlatch, and the settler can see in the colonizer’s enjoyment and expenditure the future birth of law and name. And yet, this birth is always postponed because the authority is burned, inevitably consuming itself in the fire of expenditure, from which the farce of hope and name must be restored with new clothes.

To counter the cultural and economic neoliberal shift towards precaritization, Amateur Riot has worked for almost two decades to reestablish local agency and to foster forms of interdependence for collective social reproduction, creating what I call, following the writings of political theorist James C. Scott, a “para-zomia”—a self-organized community embedded within an urban area. Though Amateur Riot includes artists and cultural workers, the collective does not consider itself a producer of artworks, signaling a move on its part past what is usually considered art.

Italian Operaismo
Gigi Roggero

Councilism involves the glorification of the figure of the worker as such, a work ethic that isn’t simply ideology but is rooted in a specific class composition, in which this worker and their pride in their craft play an important role in the productive process. These workers bear the stamp of their predecessors, the artisans. They are a sort of split artisan, struggling to regain complete autonomy over their skills, capacities, and forms of organization. Councilism fights against the expropriation of the crafts, which is implicit in industrial development, and tries to guide development toward a strengthening of the collective autonomy of the working class.

This is precisely what anti-natalism cannot grasp, or perhaps does not want to know. It does not see that pessimism is the fixed point around which its own enjoyment circulates. What singularizes the anti-natalist, what provides them with a specific way of going on, just is the view that the best is not to be born and that our ethical purpose now is to bring about the extinction of the species by refusing to procreate. This is a life that sets itself against life, that carries death at its very core; but it is a life, nevertheless.


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