I

Anyone can put an end to tossing about in the slavery of what they don’t know—and refusing the sop of empty words, come to daggers with life.

—C. Michelstaedter.

Life is no more than a continual search for something to cling to. One gets up in the morning to find oneself in bed a mere matter of hours later, a sad commuter between lack of desire and fatigue. Time passes, spurring us less and less. Social obligations no longer seem to break our backs as we have got used to spreading the weight. We obey without even taking the trouble to say yes. Death is expiated by living, wrote the poet from another trench.

We can live without passion or dreams—that is the great liberty this society offers us. We can talk endlessly, particularly of things we know nothing about. We can express any opinion we like, even the most daring, and disappear behind the murmuring. We can vote for the candidate we prefer, demanding the right to complain in exchange. We can change channels at any time should we seem to be getting dogmatic. We can enjoy ourselves at specific moments, traversing sadly identical environments at increasing speed. We can appear to be young hotheads before receiving icy bucketfuls of common sense. We can get wed as often as we like, so sacred is marriage. We can employ ourselves usefully and, if we can’t write, become journalists. We can do politics in a thousand ways, even talking about exotic guerrillas. In careers as in love, if we don’t quite make it to giving orders we can always excel in obeying. Obedience can even make martyrs of us and in spite of appearances, this society needs heroes.

Our stupidity certainly won’t seem any worse than anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter if we can’t make up our minds, we can let others decide for us. Then, we will take a stand, as they say in the jargon of politics and the spectacle. There is never any lack of justification, especially in the world of those who aren’t fussy.

In this great fairground of roles we all have one loyal ally: money. Democratic par excellence, it respects no one in particular. In its presence no commodity or service can be denied us. It has the whole of society behind it, no matter who it belongs to. Of course this ally never gives enough of itself and, moreover, does not give itself to all. But the hierarchy of money is a special one, uniting what the conditions of life set against each other. When you have it, you are always right. When you don’t, you have plenty of extenuating circumstances.

With a bit of practice we could get through a whole day without one single idea. Daily routine thinks in place of us. From work to ‘free time’, everything comes about within the continuity of survival. We always have something to cling to. The most stupefying characteristic of today’s society is the ability for ‘comfort’ to exist a hair’s breadth from catastrophe. The economy and the technological administration of the existent are advancing with irresponsible recklessness. One slips from entertainment to large-scale massacre with the disciplined insensitivity of programmed gestures. Death’s buying and selling extends over the whole of time and space. Risk and brave effort no longer exist; there remains only security or disaster, routine or catastrophe. Saved or submerged. Alive, never.

With a bit of practice we could walk from home to school, the office to the supermarket or the bank to the disco, eyes closed. Now we can understand the adage of that old Greek sage: ‘The dormant also maintain the world order’.

The time has come to break away from this we, a reflex of the only community that now exists, that of authority and commodities.

One part of this society has every interest in its continuing to rule, the other in everything collapsing as soon as possible. Deciding which side one is on is the first step. But resignation, the basis of the agreement between the sides (improvers of the existent and its false critics) is everywhere, even in our own lives—the authentic place of the social war—in our desires and resoluteness as well as in our little daily submissions.

It is necessary to come to daggers with all that, to finally come to daggers with life.

Posted By

GrouchoMarxist
Jun 1 2012 20:12

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