B U R E A U O F P U B L I C S E C R E T S
In Honor of the Arrival of the
Billy Graham Presents
The dance of revolution
Is This Our Fate?
The End of CPE
You are wandering...
Address to Womens Liberation
Gloria and Monica
[Photo of Che Guevaras corpse]
The International Liberation School announces its first required course:
Why pay pig morticians who use wood ripped off from the People
of the Third World? A plain pine coffin and Peoples Morticians will end
this international banditry. Remember, Death is just around the corner.
* * *
With the advance of the cybernetic welfare state, the alienation of the proletariat is intensified. The reign of guaranteed survival slowly makes the belief in power crumble. In order to save their power, the mediators of the spectacle must keep this survival in doubt. We thus see the constant search for Doom and The Threat. Doom, formerly played by The Bomb, now takes the form of eco-catastrophe. A more difficult role to cast is The Threat, which must be ominous enough so that people are scared, yet boring enough so that they wont want to join. In the (first) McCarthy Era, The Threat was played by the Communist Party. Now, with the shock value of parliamentary communism exhausted, the Audience needs to see red blood and fighting in the streets to get their patriotic juices flowing. This flow can be carried to climax if the Audience is allowed to become God by sacrificing their sons to the police. The Weatherman, of course, plays Jesus. His role is not complete until carried to its logical conclusion.
[Painting of crucifixion, with photos of the Chicago
Eight pasted over the heads of Jesus and the saints]
The Left abounds with Christ-figures. Some, like the Weathermen, volunteer for crucifixion. Others, like the Chicago 8, are captured. All acquiesce to the Myth of Sacrifice; all are false gods. Those leaders who serve the needs of the people perhaps think the people incapable of serving their own needs. Leaders attempt to embody the Revolution, to become substitutes for the people they purport to lead/represent. These heroic whipping boys are first singled out by the media, then led by the Law to the slaughter. Since we, the people, are not such stars of the media spectacle, we allow ourselves to be crucified by proxy. We abdicate to leaders the responsibility of each person to live his/her own life. So, like good liberals, we sacrifice money or time spent in organizing benefits for legal defense. Money is the symbolic turd of vicarious sacrifice; a poisonous gift. Just like in the Christian myth: your leaders will die to redeem you; and if you dont acquiesce to them, then the repression, like the wrath of a paternal god, will fall on you all. To stop the crucifixions, we must destroy sacrifice. We must refuse to abdicate responsibility for revolution to any leaders. This act of refusal marks the end of mystification and the beginning of the revolutionary dance.
Fragmentary opposition is like the teeth on a cogwheel: they marry one another and make the machine go round, the machine of the spectacle, the machine of power.
[On the Spectacle cogwheel it says Keep on grindin. The little woman poised to smash the machine is saying: As the Situationists say ya seen one bureaucrat, ya seen em all! The Spectacle Left cogwheel is saying: Right on! All power to the people! Smash the State! Free Huey! Serve the People! Off the Pigs! The other oppositional cogwheels are responding to the woman: Ya know, those Situationists are real clever... Right on! We oughta have one on our Steering Committee!]
We seek to supersede the following elements: the organization of
appearances as a spectacle where everyone denies himself; the separation on which private
life is based, since it is there that the objective separation between proprietor and
dispossessed is lived and reflected at every level; and sacrifice. The three are obviously
interdependent, as are their opposites: participation, founded on the passion of play;
communication, founded on the passion of love; and realization, founded on the passion to
The dance of these inseparable projects, floating free, continually changing, founds the revolutionary project. The dance realizes itself in its own supersession, in the sublime movement of subversion where the pirouette returns to itself not as itself but reconceived in a limitless perspective. Subversion devalues each originally individual element as the organization of a new significant whole confers on each element a new meaning. Subversion is the only language, the only gesture, that has within it its own critique; its force is pleasure seeking itself.
[February 1970. Signed Council for Unlimited Transformation.]
[Pictures of cells and microscopic creatures]
The dance of revolution is a continuous project, floating free, perpetually changing, always focused. The music it moves to is pure energy, weaving three interdependent melodies: participation, founded on the passion of play; communication, founded on the passion of love; and realization, founded on the passion to create. Refusing the value of appearances, the dance makes itself invisible to those who see only appearances; the spectacle of the commodity cannot defend itself. The dance can never be a closed system, it never mystifies itself; rather, it realizes itself in its own supersession, in the sublime movement of subversion, where a pirouette returns to itself not as itself, not as it was born, but changed, reconceived in a limitless perspective. Subversion devalues each fragmented element in the hierarchy of appearances; each isolated commodity whether it be inanimate objects or objectified human beings selling themselves in the marketplace is projected into the significance of the WHOLE, all possible connections are made as we dance closer to the totality of our lives. Subversion is the only language, the only gesture, that bears within it its own critique. Its force is pleasure seeking itself. In the language of subversion we begin to sing, our whole lives begin to move in the rhythm of the song: thus we create the dance: thus the revolution becomes our daily life.
[Cover: picture of huge traffic jam]
[Inside: picture of hawk flying over forest]
LEAVE PARKTOWN LEAVE LEISURETOWN LEAVE MILTOWN
leave everything / leave yr wife / yr husband / leave your children in
the forest / leave yr pets / leave yr mirrors / leave yr jobs / yr joint checking account
/ yr second mortgage / yr income tax / yr military budget
leave yr hopes & fears & sense of security & sense of frustration / leave yr grave / yr prisons churches schools / yr belief in appearances & gods / leave yr uppers & downers / yr beer & pretzels / yr packaged food & canned laughter
leave yr car to the junkheap / leave yr house to the termites / leave yr clothes to the moths
leave the country / leave the city / leave yr mind behind
LEAVE THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH
you are already free
embrace yr freedom
smash yr clocks / burn yr I.D. / run naked in the woods / make love to a
dont vote / dont argue / dont consult the authorities / dont abdicate responsibility / dont see yr shrink / dont establish yr reputation / dont sacrifice yr life to the machine of boredom
fuck it all. now
return to yr roots give yr Self to yourself
you will be a new animal, a new human being, a human being, at last
[February 1970. Distributed door-to-door in the Parktown suburban tract of Milpitas, California, by CEM members dressed in suits and ties.]
Since the publication of the CPE course catalogue and the opening proposal which addressed itself to student control of the university and the educational process in general, we, its authors, have been involved in an intense and painful period of self-criticism. The line of thought which resulted in the essay Ideas Are No Mans Property has continued to a point which is in some ways a logical extension of our original thinking, yet its conclusions radically differ from our original proposals.
In the interests of developing revolutionary clarity, we would like to share our self-criticism with you. We will present below a fairly systematic critique of our original ideas, followed by a new proposal.
Our introductory presentation of the functions of the university is a description of what happens rather than why it happens. But its accuracy left a gap between what we could see and what we could see to do to change it.
Our conclusion that the educational process and our roles as students are dehumanizing leads us to further consider all activity in the capitalist spectacle in the same way. We now see that our life lived as time which is not our own (not consciously directed by our desires) necessarily becomes a network of roles which we assume in order to survive in a way compatible with the positively reinforced structures of the social order. The separation and objectification of this time-beyond-our-control owes its structure and origins to alienated labor. This labor is a way of doing time, of surviving, while simultaneously perpetuating by our own efforts the system which enslaves us. In order to end our alienation we must refuse to act out roles which further separate authentic human need from appearance.
Thus our conclusion in the catalogue The nature of this political process . . . must be developed by us, by students as students was insufficient. Though our anger was correctly placed, we did not go far enough. We should refuse to accept the role of student. We should reject our specialized functions completely. We will ourselves be total assholes if we accept the obvious fragmentation of our lives. Our project is not to encompass the construction of new roles for ourselves but to destroy the purely subjective categorizations which keep us from transcending the poverty of automatic behavior, of alienated labor, of the voluntary slavery of reformism.
We thus come upon a new (for us) view of social relations which goes beyond our conception of a counter-institution. We have come to see any new institution as the creation of another obstacle to unmediated human activity. Institutions in their very nature become an artificial collectivity whose importance is independent of individual desire expressed collectively. What is necessary is the destruction of institutions and unnecessary restrictions of human activity, and the substitution of a spontaneous and freely chosen form of social organization whose initial project must be the abolition of class society and therefore of labor. The goal and process of such activity is the continued transformation of daily life. We will accept nothing less and therefore we proclaim AN IMMEDIATE END TO ACADEMIC REFORM. We can then pursue the only real educational reform: THE TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF THE UNIVERSITY.
We are leaving the University, and urge our sisters and brothers to do the same. Naturally, we will no longer serve as bureaucratic functionaries for the alternative institution (CPE). Our knowledge of bureaucracy leads us to believe that our withdrawal from its key positions will cause it to fall apart. This is our hope.
Alan Mulman, Diane Sunar
[Mulman and Sunar whose names were falsely signed to this leaflet were anarchist founders and functionaries of a Committee for Participatory Education at the University of California in Berkeley. This leaflet was distributed at CPE registration, March 1970.]
[Munchs painting The Scream]
You are wandering now, once again (and again) through the endless and boring debate about What Is To Be Done. What Is To Be Done is why right now you are doing nothing. Instead, you choose to allow the Steering Committee and their various functionaries to spend hours behind closed doors deciding how you should live your lives, eating their own shit and then serving it up to you the People, the Masses, the Great Nobody in their pseudo-revolutionary clichés. You perpetuate your own powerlessness by accepting their Naked Lunch. These Ideological Cops, these Bureaucrats-In-Training, are nothing more than mediators determining for you your self-determination. In a true revolutionary moment there are no mediators: no cops, no priests, no Academic Senates to be watched on TV, no Steering Committees.
These clowns try to convince you that you can build an effective strike under their auspices even while you remain students. They present to you the false possibility of revolutionary reform within a system that is always, by definition, an insidious and alienating hierarchy. All hierarchies are alienating, no matter what mythical choices they perpetrate. By remaining within the role of students you accept these nonexistent choices. You consider the crisis in Cambodia a crisis immediate to your lives when in fact your lives are devoid of crisis. At least the people of Cambodia and Vietnam are fighting for their physical survival. You instead choose to continually ignore the poverty, powerlessness, and boredom of your everyday existence. Until you realize that life must be a perpetual crisis, the Marvelous and all its possibilities will forever evade you, and even your own desperation will put you to sleep.
[April 1970. Distributed at the University of California in Los Angeles during a period of widespread but passive student protest against the US invasion of Cambodia.]
[During this same period the CEM issued several other anonymous (and no longer extant) leaflets at various UC campuses, including Chancellors Memo at UC Santa Cruz (as you may have guessed, it wasnt really from the Chancellor); Ecology Leaflet (excerpts from Burroughss Naked Lunch signed Ecology Action and littered all over the Santa Cruz campus); and George Winne Memorial at UC San Diego (Winne was a UCSD student who had just burned himself to death in protest against the war; the CEM leaflet, in sarcastic irony, suggested that other students might appropriately emulate this gesture of self-sacrificial protest).]
[Another no longer extant CEM leaflet-disruption left the following trace.]
GODARD IN BERKELEY
. . . The last sequence [of a Godard film being shown] showed a bloody hand reaching out of the mud. Long live the Revolution. Lights, applause, heres Godard to answer your questions.
Godard immediately asked that the nearer of the two obnoxious tv lamps focused on him be turned off, and it was. The strangest event of a strange evening took place. A man I didnt see him long enough to notice anything but dark hair threw an explosion of leaflets into the audience and vanished up the aisles. The leaflets contained two messages:
One, in English, called The Meal attacked Godard as a sorry clown, a hypocrite, the old pederast of the youth revolution, and attacked the audience for its contemptible acquiescence. It concluded by predicting that you (the audience) and your so-called revolution will remain a childish mimicry of its own possibility.
The other, printed parallel in French, called Le Repas (The Meal) seems to be but is not a translation of the English. Here, Godard is a genius, a hero, a saint, the prophet of the Youth Revolution. The audience is praised equally fulsome as a room full of authentic revolutionaries ready to sacrifice themselves for the creation of total rebellion, and told that you and your revolution will be the stars of the next Godard movie.
If the aim of these leaflets was to out-Godard Godard in coyness and perversity of expression, the distributors came close. (Assuming that they are not the work of Godard himself, or simply an inept translation.) Either way, to throw the things up in the air and run was the very acme of chickenshit. Why not just hand them out. Who were they afraid of. . . .
BERKELEY BARB (1 May 1970)
[The article fails to note that as the leaflets were distributed (by a CEM member in priests garb) other CEM members were throwing tomatoes at Godard, who unfortunately succeeded in ducking them.]
Womans everyday life embodies a critique of human history, including a critique of the traditional revolutionary organization and its so-called New Left alternatives. However, women are obscuring this critique by trying to define themselves in terms of traditional revolutionary theory, which has in general merely tacked an obscured discussion of the role of women onto its periphery. Women have failed to utilize their lived critique of hierarchical society, limiting themselves to the same alienating modes of revolt (Stalinist, for example) to which men have been confined.
The separation which women feel from history offers them an opportunity for critical revolt. This opportunity is obscured by the expressed need to relate womens liberation to the traditional revolutionary struggles. This identification necessitates a new relationship to men (i.e. to those men who participate in the traditional revolutionary struggles). The ability of women to formulate a revolutionary praxis consistent with their critique of history is restricted not only by the chauvinism of leftist males, but also by the elementary theory and organization of the Left. It is at this point that womens liberation has offered the possibility of a critique of the Left and of traditional leftist hierarchy. The extreme form of this critique has been separation from the oppressor (i.e. men).
The predominant attitude of this separation (whether or not it is realized in a separatist colony) is antagonism, distrust, and hatred. The separatist woman is defined by this attitude: She has a social identity which can only be negative; it becomes merely the negation of the traditional feminine identity. By merely finding a new role in which to relate to men, she perpetuates her subservience to the world of appearances. Rather than relate to women as individuals, she continues to define them through the juxtaposition (to her, antagonism) of the sexes. She expends all her energy in that friction. She is successfully protected from a submissive relationship with men; yet she submits to a fragmented view of the world which is not of her own making.
In the moment of total rejection of the given social relationships, all things are possible; instead, most women seek shelter in a structure whose very attractiveness is its smothering and ultimately destructive familiarity. By allying themselves with traditionalist revolutionary struggles which seek to substitute one form of oppression for another women fail to utilize the moment of radical rejection. They make alliances with the Left on its terms: in order to be admitted to the exclusive club of authorized movements of the oppressed, they must accept the history of the Lefts failure to bring into being a society without hierarchy. Thus, to the extent that it links itself to the Left, the womens liberation movement, discussing its goals in traditional socialist terms, fails to note all the critiques of left ideology which have been generated in the last fifty years, and perpetuates the hierarchy they should be revolting against. Women thus support a radical movement which suppresses them, whether that suppression takes the obvious form of male chauvinism in the New Left or wage labor in the Soviet Union. At the same time they reinforce the Lefts preoccupation with revolutionary prehistory and its alienated forms of revolutionary reconstruction (such as party bureaucracy, and massive thought control and denial of freedom during the period of transition).
It is the attempt to relate to traditional revolutionary theory with its mistaken emphasis on the necessity of state power and a period of transition which leads to the endless debate over job and economic status, caste and class, and sexual identity. Because it is subsumed by a series of traditionalist rationalizations, the analysis of female identity has not been developed into a total critique.
Womens liberation fails to realize that it is rebelling against an image of men which is as superficial as the image of women they have rejected for themselves, and that it is the very nature of the male role to be self-perpetuating because of its characteristic dominance. By limiting the critique of psychological stereotypes to women, the realm of the possible is drastically narrowed: a critique of male and female roles should lead to a general critique of Role, and from there to a critique of all ideal absolutes. In the past, the critique has only constructed another idealized essence the New Woman to be revealed in the post-revolutionary era. Both the New Man and the New Woman are mystifications; embracing these ideal types merely postpones the necessity of throwing into radical question all that the revolutionary project must encompass.
[Distributed at a May 1970 California womens conference in Santa Cruz. Later reprinted by 1044.]
[Porn photos of two naked women making love,
with dialogue added underneath]
GLORIA: I just dont know whats bothering him, he doesnt want to do it anymore.
MONICA: My husbands the same, hes always too tired tonight. Maybe its his job, he keeps complaining about how boring it is. I sure couldnt stand 10 hours a week at that factory.
GLORIA: Maybe so, but when they get home, all they do is drink and watch TV.
MONICA: It could be my fault. I dont feel too sexy either. Cleaning house is as dull as any factory job; but what choice do we have?
GLORIA: Well, at least I can be honest with you. You dont want to own me, or make me pretend Im happy, or make me tell you how strong you are.
MONICA: They dont even try to understand, they think they make all the sacrifices. They think theyre so virile but instead of taking us to bed they just play poker and talk about imaginary whores.
GLORIA: Yeah, just like on TV where all the beautiful people live in a dream world. Sometimes I think Harry would rather live his whole life inside the TV.
MONICA: Im so tired of pretending everythings all right, trying to be the Revlon-girl-of-his-dreams. If he wants to suffer all day at the plant and then come home and take it out on me, Id rather forget the whole thing.
GLORIA: Whats he working for anyway? He just wastes the money on toys to show off to his friends that end up in the closet gathering dust, or else he buys me some junky present and then expects me to forgive him when he comes home a drunken slob.
MONICA: I feel like such a martyr sometimes. Neither of us wants to sacrifice our lives to these boring jobs, but we gotta eat.
GLORIA: Sure, but why cant we just take what we need? Theres enough for everybody, why pay money we wasted so much time earning?
MONICA: If we stopped buying things and lived like that, they could quit their jobs. Then wed have time for ourselves. Things could be a lot more exciting that way and the men probably wouldnt be so tired at night.
[June 1970. Intended for distribution on the freeway at rush hour near the Lockheed Aircraft factory in Sunnyvale, California. But the CEM broke up before this was carried out.]
Leaflets issued by the Council for the Eruption of the Marvelous (CEM), January-June 1970. Better quality facsimile versions of all the CEM publications are included in the Bureau Prehistory.
Other CEM publications:
[Great Moments in the Void Trading Cards]
[On Wielding the Subversive Scalpel]
[CEM additions to On the Poverty of Student Life]
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