Manifesto #5 (an Attack on Violence)

I do not enjoy security or comfort. Though it may seem that it is in my best interest to enjoy security and comfort through the assurances of authorities outside my own will, this is mere indoctrination which serves the interest of those authorities which make their enjoyment in the exercise of power over me. The type of man who would sign his own sovereign authority and judgment over to other men demonstrates either that he enjoys being dominated, or that he enjoys being lazy. In either case, it shows that this type of man does not believe that his power is his own property to use as he will. The type of man who consigns his own power over to other men in exchange for a reduced scope of liberty, action and sovereignty of will is afraid of his ability to wield his own power. He feels unschooled, unqualified and incompetent to deal with such power. But this idea does serve the interest of those men who want to use his power for him.

Such men often find philosophical enquiry into their own beliefs hostile to their way of life. But these beliefs and this way of life are not even his ideas. He inherits them and defends them on behalf of his masters. He is himself hostile to ideas. Stupidity, the conscious opposition to examining one’s own beliefs is, after all, nothing but a form of oppression; it is the oppression of thought. This is the primary form of violence found amongst men. This oppression exists so that those men in authority, who have been authorised to wield the individual’s power on his behalf, can indefinitely retain the loan and use of his power for their own ends. Inasmuch as the man who freely signs away his power to his masters must, by necessity, feel resentful for having done so, he therefore tends to consider any use of philosophy by others as hostile to him, despite the very obvious fact that all his views articulate philosophical prejudices that he has inherited through the ages and accepts blindly as his own. He will only accept a philosophy which is given him by his masters who give him the responsibility to defend it in his own sphere of life. He has no use of thinking up his own alternatives and considers such free-thinking to be both unpatriotic and dangerous to his way of life and to the way of life of his whole society. But free-thinking is not an enemy of society. It is its entire justification.

I want to show that the seemingly peaceful, consenting society of men, who exist under the sway of unexamined philosophical ideals, is nothing but an exercise of violence over each individual will in order to strengthen the degree of power in those who hold authority over him. I want to show that it is his individual power which the philosophy of the ruling class wishes to acquire, and that it is his beliefs, when he does not question them, when he does not have the strength to reject what he considers logically untenable and when he does not speak against those things he feels to be false, which is the object which powerful and cunning men wish to acquire. I say that man, if he is willing to do so, must act as a philosopher if he is going to espouse and live under philosophical ideas. I say there is not one single man living anywhere, who does not act under the governance of some philosophical, moral ideal, and if he will act out such ideals, then he must question their validity and usefulness. We are told that man has a right to free speech. But if he does not put his will into his mouth when he speaks, then his right is nothing but a license for a greater, more powerful men to speak on his behalf, and he therefore gives his power and therefore his freedom away as cheaply as the native Americans gave away their lands. I say that man enjoys insecurity and suffering, because these are the feelings of being alive. He enjoys those things because it is only when man feels insecure and suffers for it that he expresses his sovereign will and exercise of his own power. When man exercises power, he feels alive. When man gives his power away under the pretext of greater freedom and security, he feels foolish. And so he should. The comforts and securities he enjoys are the slender pay-off made to him by those he gave his power to in order for him not to have to think, and yet thinking is his premium. Unless man has a direct relation to his own quantum of power, unless he recognises power as the only property which existence affords him, then power, freedom and happiness are for him nothing but spectator sports.

To Organise

www.theunstitute.org

When I come home from work, at precisely seven in the evening, I have to walk down this particular street to get to where I want to be. It’s not an unusual street and I’m not an unusual person, and I suppose, looking at it, none of the people here are unusual either. Familiarity makes it so, and indeed, to the stranger things would appear strange, so there’s nothing so very much out of the ordinary with that. I consider it a great advantage that one can get used to anything…a strange saying, come to think of it; ‘used to’, and not ‘used by’. Anyroad, others of my type walk along different roads from the same office, proceeding outwards from the central point, each residing equidistant from our headquarters, and we sweep along these routes at the same hours each day, following shift-patterns to create an impression of regularity and familiarity. The uniform of my type makes it so. The uniform helps to regulate those who recognise the uniform, and the regularity with which the uniform is seen on each of these inroads modulates the behaviours and appearances of those observing the daily pattern.

I was given a transfer from Dorking branch to this central office due to my diligence in observing the daily pattern. Opportunities such as these are few, and competition to be transferred is very vigorous. Bribery is not unheard-of; it is in fact mandatory. Almost my entire monthly wage is spent on bribes of one kind or another, and the Department is now able to deduct bribes direct from the monthly salary, (which is an improvement over the system that preceded it wherein the better part of one’s working day was spent queuing to pay one’s bribes at the payments window on the seventh-floor, often involving bribing those in front of you in the queue to let you go first. This process could take days at a time.) Recent cuts in the salary however, coupled with the increasing cost of bribery has led to the entire staff of my department running a great debt to The Organisation and it has been speculated that the staff will send The Organisation into receivership over unpaid bribes. It is now widely considered that The Organisation does its staff a humanitarian service by continuing to employ us, (which creates a great sense of duty amongst employees,) and a special system has been organised wherein employees may go and apologise to the Departmental Director for continuing to be employed, sometimes even paying a bribe in order to be given audience by the Executive Board to make direct apologies there. Such high-level apologising can open doors for the average employee.

The charitable work done by The Organisation has been recognised at the highest levels of government and now receives relief in the form of large subsidies. This in turn has led to an increase in public taxation and a reduction in benefit welfare schemes. It has therefore become increasingly important that the uniform is seen on every street at the crucial routine hours in order to remind those members of the public not currently employed [by The Organisation] of the great obligation owed to those making huge sacrifices on their behalf; for they are ultimately the benefactors of our industriousness. The very foundation of our state depends on such selfless acts of public beneficence which trickles-down from the highest strata, (the most selfless being in the highest positions, naturally,) through the administrative quarters down to the very lowest employees, then finally out onto the streets where it learns the form of Duty. The production and maintenance of The Ordinary is the chief Duty of our Organisation.

To Run

www.theunstitute.org

If I were to give a description of a mass-movement of men and women, between noon and one o’clock in the week-days, which included the particulars of states of dress, direction, velocity, number, their beginning and end points, the circuit traversed and, most importantly, the location of this movement, I would do well to restrict myself to these particulars. However, inasmuch as I am a ne’er-do-well, that I make it my habit to make observations of this kind every weekday between noon and one o’clock, I cannot be expected to keep my description to the point, but am instead lead towards insignificant details and speculations as to the whys-and-wherefores of this incessant motion. Had I but the discipline of even one of the specimens I come to observe, I would refrain from letting my mind wander along routes inconclusive to my benefit; I would reject the stasis of my own body and join the flow of those in continual motion before me, would engage in conversation here and there, between pleasurable gasps of achievement. My legs too would pound away at such gnawing speculations as bring a man to this point of immobile observation, who dreams of the little entranceway through which these men and women pour, as though the building were just this little hole with nothing lying beyond it; no offices, no structures, no meetings, no management, no budgets – just so many constructions to conceal the purpose of the runners. But running is something which escapes me.

The Organisation of the runners may invite this unpleasant air of mystery, perhaps because they are unable to notice the world around them like us casual observers, and none so more than The Residents of these houses which line the running-route who provide, with walls, a convenient parameter against which the course of this running takes, for this running always happens alongside something, and never in open spaces. The Residents, like us, have observed the running, at first with idle curiosity, as involuntary spectators, even with some enjoyment –  but later increasingly as a disturbance, nuisance, objectionable. Their feelings, joined together like mortises, congealed and resolved to prevent their mass-motion; they have tried, and failed, to prevent it. A first, audacious effort saw a wall constructed here, over the mouth of the running-route leading to the houses, overnight, blocking the through-route to confuse the runners and drive them helpless into the water. Collectively they laboured and built during the small hours and, proud, they retreated behind windows to watch triumphantly. But no sooner had the runners arrived on the consecutive day than they swarmed around the wall and, acting in one motion, attacked it with their fists, pounding the wet mortar with their bloodied hands and nails, tearing it brick by brick until they succeeded in making a hole big enough for them to run-through. The running continued, unabated. Two runners, seething with mad fury, ripped their own heads off. The flintlock rage of the runners displayed in this incident both discouraged all further direct action by the residents and sparked countless letters of complaint to The Organisation to which the runners belong. But communication with The Organisation is closed and cannot be opened by pleading voices demanding rights. As proof of this, greater numbers of runners were immediately deployed by The Organisation to arrest all further impulse to dissent.

The futility of communication with or resistance to the runners has led to most of the residential area being left tenantless and in a state of disrepair. Some tenants have attempted to join the ranks of the runners in secret, tagging-along with some of the smaller female groups in an effort to penetrate The Organisation unnoticed, but such deceptions are invariably violently disclosed and these individuals never return. One cannot run-with the runners. This activity has no participants and may not be joined. It is a wonder then how this activity can take place at all, this involuntary movement, but it still takes place, nonetheless.

To Lurk

www.theunstitute.org

I’m acutely aware of people who lurk, you know, like when you’re walking at night through a housing estate or something, and it’s all deserted and silent, and you see a man, or a group of teenage boys, ‘lurking’. You don’t often say that women ‘lurk’, do you? Or middle-class people? Or the scene itself with all its horrid objects; you don’t say that it ‘lurks’, do you? It’s funny, language. But this lurking – for I can conceive of no other term – I feel it more and more, and it makes me, well, I wouldn’t say paranoid exactly, because that’s not entirely accurate, but it puts me perpetually on-the-lookout; like an animal or something. I feel like an animal, an herbivore in the green grasses. In a wrong situation – an uncanny situation – every little sound signifies lurking…and it appals me. I even started changing the routes I walk home by so as to avoid the possibility of this ‘lurking’ sensation, you know, like not taking the proverbial short-cut, not walking down alleyways or past the 24-hour shop after midnight, not cutting-through estates and the like. It’s with satisfaction that I can say I’ve developed a comprehensive, continually evolving map in my head that I follow so as to avoid scenes which invite the ‘lurking’ feeling. I don’t even need to know the place at all – just a very sharp feeling will suddenly cause a diversion and make me walk past the road I wanted to walk down, and then I end up walking much further than I intended just to satisfy myself that I’m doing everything I can to avoid the possibility of being caught unawares in ambush.

Now, this has all been going on for quite some time and has somewhat come to dominate my life. I work until late during the week so I am used to coming home in darkness, but the length of time it takes me to get home has increased ten-fold since my sensitivity to this feeling grew more acute. When I got home from work Tuesday last I was laying in bed, thinking, you know, about things, (I should say that I’ve become insomniac in the last month,) and so I finally decided to ask myself “What or who lurks?” I mean, the first thing to do when one suffers an anxiety of this kind is to nail exactly what it is causing it, but I couldn’t really think of a decent answer offhand like that, and so I mulled it over all the next day. I mean, it’s easy to say that someone is lurking – I do it all the time – but do I ever say that I am lurking? Is it me who causes someone to lurk because I say to myself; “Who’s that lurking over there?” I mean, if I just said to myself “Who’s that standing over there?” then nobody would be lurking, would they? This verb is misleading, for a person does not ‘lurk’ per-se. Somebody seems to be lurking – and that is something more subtle.

I was a bit fascinated by this idea – you know – that lurking is not something you can do, but is something you see someone else appear to be doing, so as an experiment, I started going out after work, (you know, when I’m usually laying in bed thinking about lurking,) in order to lurk myself. It was quite easy to work out where to lurk; I just went to all those places I’d sought to avoid according to the map worked-out in my head. In fact, I started seeing those locations – those alleys and street-corners as a kind of furtive territory that before I had made every effort to skirt around. So I would go and ‘place myself’ in a given scene. (‘Being-placed’ seems to be fundamental to a good lurk.) When I found a Lurk-Conducive Location, I then conjured up an image of what I was anxiously anticipating all those times and proceeded to place myself, like an object, in that scene. Now, what I experienced was not at all what I had anticipated. By ‘lurking’ myself, it seemed to me that I had become an object waiting to be seen, like I was existing only for the look of somebody else – somebody else on-the-lookout, so to speak. I heard footsteps approach – stilettos on the paving-stones. I was right under a streetlamp at the exit of an alleyway leading alongside a churchyard. I felt very conscious of what I was doing, of ‘lurking’, until this other person appeared. It was a young woman, walking slightly hurriedly whilst looking at her mobile telephone. I tried not to stare at her face, but looked instead out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t until she looked up and saw me at the mouth of the passageway that I noticed what I can only describe as a strange ‘hardness’ about myself, an ‘objectness’– or so I shall call it for expediency’s sake – as though I had ceased to exist for myself and now existed solely for her. When she noticed me, lurking, (and I can only presume that she thought this word to herself,) at that very instant I became aware of something unusual. It felt like this woman, who until that moment had been existing all for-herself, preoccupied and private, suddenly ceased to exist for-herself when she noticed me; I had become an objection to her way of being, demanding she now exist for-another. We had become terms in an equation. I noticed how her gait changed slightly; her strides became confident in such a way as to appear confident, as though she were walking in such a way for me. Of course she had considered turning back – that was evident in a slight hesitation about her walk which registered in the sound of her stilettos – but that would have been almost to demand some kind of reaction from me, a signal to act that formless and terrible act which lurking signifies so tantalisingly. (Perhaps I would have been helpless but to react?) So she continued toward me as I continued to avoid her gaze, and both of us pretended that nothing was the matter. There was a moment of absolute tension as she approached the mouth of the passage, and it seemed – not in my own thoughts, (for I had none,) but in the sort of general mood experienced by the disembodied spectator, that such an extreme degree of expectancy was levied against the whole scenario in order to generate some kind of fatalistic performance. I was being-obliged, perhaps by the anticipations of this approaching being-on-the-lookout, or perhaps due to some tacit convention of narrative of which we were both undeniably aware, to perform in this scene something we had fearfully performed in our fantasies many, many times before. (Would it be cruel to leave this tacit desire unsatisfied?) The woman walked with purposeful slowness past my bulk, out into the open sea of the main street where a car with comforting tail-lights stopped nearby as if to remind normality to return again, to say it was okay to exist in-and-for-oneself once more. That horrible object, glimpsed so often, had once again dwindled away into foolish vanity. She would walk away, I would remain, and the excruciating, bursting feelings which made these thirty seconds or less seem so full of dread significance would slip senselessly into oblivion and be worth nothing. It was then I saw what was to be feared.

Since then, I have been lurking around all night every night, trying to return to ‘objectness’. Being-placed seems to suit me rather well; I have become relaxed and cheerful. I have noticed that my presence seems to have diverted the bulk of traffic that habitually passes through the avenues I tend to lurk about in and I can see now how I can begin to carve out further territories for myself through this practise of lurking. I must however be careful not to be seen too frequently or I might become familiar. To become familiar means to lose something vital about the verb. I have no great desire to be familiar.

To Bore, or Boring Aandre (an overheard conversation)

www.theunstitute.org

…listen, mum; I did fone ‘im, but ‘e said fone Aandre…

…yes, mum…

…yes, ‘e says Aandre knows what to do…

…uh…yeah…

….so I foned this Aandre last night, right, and ‘e’s round quick as a flash, and I shows ‘im the ‘oles. Remember they was behind the cooker in that daamp bit of lino what’s peelin’ off and goin’ braan? Well, they moved. Now they’s next to the barfroom cabinet…

…yeah, ‘oles…

I dunno ‘ow they moved, but they bleedin moved

…nah, I did call the caancil, but they said they don’t do ‘oles…

…‘ow do I bleedin’ know?!?

…nah, they said they does ants, bed bugs, bees, braan-banded cockroaches, german cockroaches, oriental cockroaches, carpet beetles, fur beetles, varied carpet beetles, centipedes, firebrats, fleas, blue bottles, green bottles, ‘ouse flies, fruit flies, ‘ornets, lice, aalmond mofs, indianmeal mofs, mealworm beetles, red spiders, silverfish, spider beetles, woodlice, daampwood termites, subterranean termites, wasps, woolly bears, woodworms, deaf watch beetles, furniture beetles, weevils, mice, raats, chipmunks, gophers, beavers, shrews, moles, opossums, raccoons and ‘edgehogs. But not ‘oles. Well, Aandre takes one look at them holes and ‘e says, “You’ll ‘ave to fill em up.” ‘e said if I didn’t fill ‘em up straight away, they’d be everywhere, and before I know it, there’d be no ‘ouse left….

….nah…nah…‘e’s a specialist, mum; ‘e works wiv ‘oles every day…

…nah…nah…why should I?

…mum…mumyou should know bleedin’ better than listen to ‘er malicious bleedin’ gossip…

…mum; Aandre does not live in an ‘ole! Anyway, ‘e fills ‘em up and says call ‘im back if I gets any more…

…yeah, that was last night….

…well, that’s my point exactly…

…nah, ‘e went back ‘ome. Well, I goes into the kitchen this morning don’t I, and there’s six more of them bleedin’ ‘oles lurkin’ behind the microwave. I’m at my wits end mum, really I am, and now there’s gonna be no ‘ouse left, and I dunno what to do, and Aandre ain’t pickin’ up the fone, and ‘is answerfone message is just this saand of ‘im sayin’ “ ‘oles, ‘oles, ‘oles, ‘oles, ‘oles,” over and over and over…I feel proliferated mum. I’m a bleedin’ colander…