"The reform of consciousness consists only in making the world aware of its own consciousness, in awakening it out of its dream about itself, in explaining to it the meaning of its own actions.... The world has long since dreamed of something of which it needs only to become conscious for it to possess it in reality."  --- Karl Marx

COMMITTEE FOR TRANSCENDENCE
Bulletin #1

Notes on Transcending Global Alienation


In class society one expects "endless" war.
If so, why are we here? Why do I feel as deja vu? I got here somehow, yet where do I go from here? Could I be here for some other purpose than what immediately presents itself? ? How can I make this more meaningful and consequential than passively consuming a series of speeches telling me how to vote, or a call to trod down dreamless streets, a repeat of recycled failures? How do I create a next and lasting step?

Stepping beyond…
...misery, violence, and exploitation which appear -- daily and everywhere -- polite and fuzzy, as well as terse and brutal -- yet remain invisible and fragmented in terms of what it really is: class war. What is class society today and how does it manifest itself above us and as us, as our own distorted reflection? How do we comply? How do we commiserate? How do we perpetuate? How do we self-enslave? How is daily life reproduced as the terrain of our own imprisonment? How do we self-liberate?

We had better assess this current situation.
SITUATION: ALIENATION. We are each born into this world, and this world is not our making, vis-à-vis, ourselves as real beings, born and raised in certain historical conditions. We find ourselves in a world, and in political/economic systems which are overwhelming in their scope, power, and historic inertia. We all feel ourselves to be individuals, yet we all participate in a kind of collective, social dance between consciousness and unconsciousness. What is this "collective consciousness?" Where and how is it created? How does it manifest itself? Was it always in existence? If not, then how did it come to be?

It seems to us there is, potentially at best, a kind of quasi-collective consciousness, a sense of pseudo-community, that exists as a kind of ideal projection which stands over and above our potentially-real daily lives. But really, what exists now, is not a "collective consciousness" or real community, but rather just its opposite -- an alienated projection of class interests, which means: hierarchical power, antagonistic division, and mass codependency. What passes for consciousness of community is really nothing but the pseudo-collectivity of capitalist class power relations.

These power relations define the world of accepted ideas, as well as, the modes of communication, and the goals and means of a social system whose basic relation is separation, not community. In other words, the consciousness of the pseudo-solidarity of social life is disengaged from the community of real human beings and given an autonomous power over and above the disenfranchised and powerless mass of individuals.

The social power that is alienated, extracted, and consecrated "outside" or "external to" those who created it, is "separate power". Once consecrated and institutionalized, it protects itself from the reappropriation of disalienated creators via variant forms of social control: mass-hypnosis, emotional manipulation, character-armor production, commodity fetish, the commodity form, capital accumulation, and State power. In other words, what passes for the consciousness of our shared social identities becomes the ideology of a spectacle which appears over and above us - to appear as, simultaneously, the totality of society and a part of society which stands superior to the rest: the world of separate power. The products and creativity that are daily disengaged from all individuals, primarily through work and ideologies of consumption, then return as an alien force which rules over us, and which form the means and goals of daily life in capitalism. In the broadest sense, this alienated power becomes our "economy," our "government," our "world." A "second nature" appears to cover the globe, to exist without question, and becomes the sun which always shines over modern passivity. This spectacle gives a global voice to the laudatory monologue of disguised power-relations, always assuming its own glory -- while spicing this spectacular stew with fragmented views of emerging crisis, breakdown, violence, war, mass starvation, disease, ecological decay, and global catastrophe. This is the woeful map of our alienation, which has now become a global system.

In a very real sense, this human world is "created by ourselves" -- but created in conditions that none of us have chosen, and that none of us have any clear way of changing, and that none of us are being asked to change, and, in fact, this system is a class system, which means that it is presided over by people who suffer from the illusion that they benefit from this state-of-affairs, simply because they squeeze out monstrous wealth and power. By using their control of resources, their technologies of mass communication and ideological projection, their seductive methods of commodity fetishism, and, when necessary, their police, their armies, their means of surveillance, their prisons, their skills of torture and mind-control, and of course, their politicians, their bureaucrats - they thus insure the security of their positions as top-dogs, as king-rats, as chief-cannibals over a reified and alienated world. All power to the ruling class! They have the power precisely because you don't.

CAPITALISM. The system of commodity and exchange-value production, of capital accumulation and expansion is the basic mode of operation of capitalist society. It is "how things work." And it appears to us, its humble servants, as totally Natural, the "way things work" -- primarily because the system has produced a way of life, a culture, that has become all-encompassing. "All we see are things and their prices." Through the mode of commodity production, that is, wage and salaried labor, there is a hidden secret, a sleight-of-hand, which when seen for what it is, can be exposed as the source of wealth/poverty, class antagonism, and the accumulation of CAPITAL.

Through this process there is an accumulation of wealth in the hands of the owners of capital, despite the fact that it is the workers who do most of the work, who produce the commodities, who sell their life-energies in exchange for the means of survival. And this process creates the relation of ALIENATION, which is the name of a relationship by which we disown control over our daily lives. Through the productive modes of wage labor and capital accumulation a surplus of wealth is created that then stands opposed to the workers that produce it -- and its accumulation as capital stands as an embodiment of wealth that the workers are obliged to continue to work for, to sell themselves to, to exchange their lives, skills, time, and energies. The means, uses, products, and technologies are already automatically owned and controlled via the ownership of capital. The workers, ourselves, become commodities, and we sell ourselves for a price — for wages. The accumulation of capital, as generated by the separation of the surplus created by the workers, is placed in the hands of the owners -- and this "theft" is the normal working of the system. This accumulation of capital cannot just stand pat, it is not a one way street, but rather a cycle -- the whole circuit of wage-labor --> commodity production -- exchange -- capital accumulation -> wage-labor - commodity production --> exchange ----> accumulation --> and round and round, must successfully make it through each stage of the cycle, must complete the circuit, or else there will be social breakdown, and crisis. And the system is very vulnerable to such crisis. Further, each accumulated capital, and the system of capitalism as a whole, must expand and accumulate, must fight for dominance in the market and for control of resources, trade, labor. There is an inherent need for expansion in capitalism, and thus an inherent conflict between various capitalist ownerships and between national organizations of capital (as in national states). Competition will always evolve toward control and monopoly. There are many potential points of conflict and breakdown in this system -- because there are inherent contradictions in its functioning. But the point is that this system is a particular system, it is a game with its own particular rules, and its seizure of control of human society was a real historical process. Yes, commodity exchange of various kinds, and at various levels, existed before capitalism. But the evolution of capitalism and its form of surplus generation and ownership meant that the development of commodity relations became the DOMINATING organizing force of society, and this organizing force inherently must expand and control more and more and more territory, it must be able to render more "things," more resources, more people into the commodity form. It cannot stop this process without going into crisis -- it must break through all limits, all resistance, it must colonize human life intensively and extensively. This colonization requires a quantification of human social reality — in which the workings of "the market", of commodity exchange, of profit and accumulation require a money-form to facilitate the whole process. Again — what we find in our daily lives are "things and their prices". That is the world we live in, this is the dominating force that builds cities, creates technologies, stands behind imperialisms, creates the growing contradiction between wealth and poverty, creates tensions that can lead to war, renders everything it touches into a market relation, and comes up against its own limits.


The (Nation-)State maintains this state of affairs.
"National identity," nationalism in all its forms, in all its corporate-statist, pseudo-socialist, and theocratic varieties, is yet another mode of reification, another form of alienation and ideology, that is, a form of false self-identification. Make no mistake about it, these various statist forms are all competing forms of alienated power, ruling over you, always subjugating, often in your name. "National Identity" has the primary role in modern history of providing an ideological identification as to facilitate an organized rationalization for the accumulation of capital. As such, it is inherently a means of class exploitation, and an ideology by which the people of the world are divided against themselves. Nationalism projects a false sense of security and community. The modern state has the basic function of insuring the maintenance and continuation of modern forms of social control, i.e., class division and the smooth functioning of capitalism. The State also provides the screen for the illusion of "democratic" participation, as well as, the physical means of force and compliance, in both its "democratic" and blatantly autocratic forms. It is also the primary organizational tool for war and production for war -- in the service of capital expansion and conquest. It serves to sidetrack potential working-class consciousness, international solidarity, and self-organization on the part of the people of the world, and thus to divert potential post-national class consciousness and organization into the dead-ends of sectarian rivalries, trade conflict, and military confrontation. As a means of separation, "national identity" is a tool for counter-revolution, for localized enslavement, and for class submission. Ironically, it is through the development of capitalist expansionism on a global scale that the notion of "national state" is becoming superseded by way of the ascendancy multi-national corporations, and "globalization." We are in an historic period where national statist ideologies are being undermined by the requirements of globalized capital. The legalistic confines of national states are being superseded through the globalistic, quasi-international alliances that facilitate the extraction of surplus value on a global scale. "Outsourcing" is just one the means of this global hyper-expansion -- which not only brings about the outsourcing of profitable accumulation, but also renders working class contestation more and more impotent, as areas of conflict can be pacified by way of the threat, and the reality, of the removal of capital investment to elsewhere, and thus the removal of the means of survival for the now-unemployed leftover workers. But "national identity" still plays a manipulative role to insure mass-psychological adherence to statist ideologies, that is, to render the world's working classes obedient to nationally organized forms of capital. Anyone who has any confusion about the meaning of "national identity" in the face of the global manipulations of corporate capital can just look at the deterioration of the industrial base and physical infrastructure of American society to see what "national identity" really amounts to. The powers-that-be have no qualms about letting you "go under" if that means a plus in their profit margin. You are expendable, because you really don't matter, unless you are profitably exploitable. The system does not work -- you lose.

National identity is not a cultural, ethnic, or tribal identity. The rise of the nation-state, as the primary social tool to organize masses of people, is a relatively recent development in human history. This modern nationalist form arose with the ascendancy of capitalism. The national state developed to facilitate and rationalize capitalism as a ongoing, hegemonic social-economic force. As capital accumulates in competition and often at odds with itself (as various competing centers of accumulation), then the State plays the role of maintaining and overseeing the whole process -- so as to insure smooth functioning of the local, regional, and global functions of exploitation, capital accumulation, and commodity circulation. The State also serves to "socialize" costs, that is, to find ways to make "society as a whole" pay for programs and infrastructure necessities that, in fact, serve the interests of the capitalist system. Thus these programs ultimately serve the interests of a particular form of social-economic exploitation, that is, serve the interests of a ruling class.  Nationalism is just one of the various ideologies that are developed, projected, absorbed into, and manipulated within the minds of "its" people -
maintaining class social relations - they become the false consciousness and pseudo-self identification which serve the interests of a ruling-class, and of people reproducing themselves as a subservient class; they become the social-norm which is taken as given, forming part of the "natural backdrop" of social life. These ideas, which are ultimately vulnerable to criticism, become instead, the "way things are". Alternatives are eclipsed from view or not allowed to develop at all, or when necessary, are excised from official history. The processes of our socialization become our processes of domestication and "our way of life". A social amnesia pervades daily life. A longing or feeling that "something ain't right", that something is missing, becomes a kind of "public secret". Internalized coping mechanisms -- cynicism, "acting out", anxiety, helplessness, displaced aggression become behaviorally dominant - which further advertises and validates our subjugation. Powerlessness corrupts, absolutely.

Ideology is the method for accepting a topsy-turvy world.
The ideas of the ruling classes permeate society, not only because those with power have access to the means of ideological proliferation and indoctrination, but also because these ideas are the ideas on which their own power rests -- they reflect certain belief systems, certain modes of behavior, certain ways of seeing and being in the world. Ways of living reproduce the power relations of exploitation. They become the ideological framework that is barely perceived at all, precisely because it is everywhere. The forms (and content) of ideological control co-reflect a generalized indoctrination, passivity, and domestication. These forms include: one-way mass-propaganda, manipulation and seduction of induced commodity fetishism, pseudo-political debate, ersatz life-style choices, spectacle-enthrallment, survivalist insecurity, social isolation, dumbification, regressive infantilism, and manipulated aggression. These are some of the psycho-ideological tools employed by the specialists in power. The adherence to "national identity" is just one of the means, and actually, a quite banal one at that. It is used to keep you "in your place" by way of a birth-to-death process of constant ideological reinforcement. You are, for example, American, French, Chinese, etc. -- that is, a "citizen" of an abstract entity -- given a quasi-geographical existence (presided over by structures and forces that are barely understood at best, at least by you). In a sense, you are a slave. Not technically of course, because in the vast majority of cases, you are a "wage-slave", a human commodity, to be hired (sold) as labor. As such, you become just another commodity amongst all the others in a world drenched in commodities -- that is, you are a thing, an object -- a living thing whose life energies are taken from you, in a life-long requirement to service the needs of capitalist and State. Your subjectivity, at best, exists and manifests around the edges of your life, as your private world -- where you hope and believe your "real life" might be found. The real needs for meaningful relationships, for lives of authenticity, of community, for "religious" transcendence, for self-realization in a world where we can truly recognize ourselves — all hide in our tiny worlds of constricted, personalized enclaves. The potential adventures of self-discovery and self-development are always being undermined and infringed upon by a world which surrounds and permeates, a world constructed by the processes of alienated power.

In a sense we are victims of this system, but only as long as we accept that role. We are both the victims and the sustainers of this system, and can get beyond it only by comprehending and transcending our role. Understanding the basic modes of the system's hidden operations can give insight into global capitalism and its corresponding world crisis. The problem at hand is to realize that, actually, we are not victims — we are the creators of our world, but we create that world according to rules that are not of our conscious making. We do inherit the results of history up to this point, for better and worse. Capitalism has revolutionized the world, no doubt about that! There are countless ways that we benefit from this system, but these benefits have also become a dependency, we are trapped in a situation that seems beyond control, beyond the possibility of real transformation. But everything has its limits. The system is full of contradictions that lead it to crisis, and those crises have nasty way of a becoming deeper and more profound. And really, the primary crisis is the colonization of daily life by capital, and the rendering of us all into being servants of its quantitative dictates. Thus as the system slides into crisis, it will take us with it. When capitalism falls, it will fall on you, unless we discover possible alternatives to the way human life is currently organized.


Transcendence is a beginning.

We envision the supersession of the economy, politics, the State, as the real means of pulling ourselves beyond the world crisis. If that sounds impossible, we say that the trajectory humanity finds itself on right now will produce the impossibility of living on this planet, in any way that sustains civilization, or even sustains the human species. What is required of us is a class-conscious movement that aims for collective self-management, beyond the current set-up (a set-up which requires alienation and separate power, and stands in opposition to human needs and desire). Such a movement requires an awakened humanity, ready to engage in a world-historical act of self-transformation, and to create the means to self-manage social life. Radical direct democracy would be both the means and the goal.. We are not advocating a utopia, an ideal state, or panacea. We do not advocate party control, hierarchies, politics as usual, legislative alternatives. We are not advocating the violent overthrow of any state. But what we seek is the supersession of our current economic and political forms. What we seek is an ongoing experiment in direct democracy which would evolve according to historical possibilities.

Power without mediators, power exercised by the "base" of society, not disowned or projected or alienated into a class above ourselves — direct democracy through collective forms of self-management...
to be continued.

For those who wish to explore these ideas, we recommend the following texts:

The Revolution of Everyday Life - by Raoul Vaneigem
Society of the Spectacle - by Guy Debord
"The Reproduction of Everyday Life" - by Fredy Perlman
Essays on Marx's Theory of Value - by Isaak Illich Rubin
Workers Councils - by Anton Pannekoek
"As We See It" - by the Columbia Anarchist League
The Right to Be Greedy - by For Ourselves: Council for Generalized Self-Management
Online access information and communications:

COMMITTEE FOR TRANSCENDENCE
web site: http://www.committee-for-transcendence.org
email: kathykundalini@committee-for-transcendence.org