Authentic Life, Total Liberation, Apply Within

by Committee for Transcendence
March 22, 2008

We are looking for comrades to engage, with us, in the project of developing in ourselves the capacity for living authentically, even amidst the decay of modern conditions of human life. We understand that seeking to live authentically requires the project of the transformation of ourselves and the transcendence of modern social conditions. As we seek personal self-realization we must also engage and transform the history in which we seem trapped. This project is an individual, deeply felt desire, and also a social project that requires engagement with others. We are a world in crisis, in global economies, seemingly endless wars, environmental destruction — and, also, on a very personal, psychological dimension. We have long-since come to the realization that these realms are, in fact, part of a single interrelated dynamic — like a mobius strip on which one side is written "personal-psychology" and on the other is written 'social-historical'. We awaken each day to a world of crisis, depression, ecological destruction, slow-motion economic collapse — as spiced-up and enlivened by pseudo-entertaining distractions, social dumbification, condescending political non-alternatives, news of terrorism, random violence, state-sponsored torture, rumors of futuristic forms of police-state authoritarian mind-control, and the threat of biospheric collapse and even species extinction. Like in a strange fun-house mirror we see the results of modern industrial production and quantum physics become an ever-present dualism of threats — the soft-edged wave of approaching global warming versus the instantaneous point of nuclear holocaust. As fascinating and provocative as all this may sound, it is actually accompanied by a generalized malaise, boredom, and resignation (at least in the 'modern' sectors of the global spectacular economy). There is a mass-sense of social-historical and individuated inertia. It as if the idea of humanity's extinction really is not so bad after all, because, barring global catastrophe, the future seems to offer, at best, a kind of hyper-version of more-of-the-same, which means only more work, traffic jams, advertising, commodity-addiction, spectacle enthrallment, dreary politics, corruption, scandal, cynicism, titillation, anxieties, and accumulating amnesia to get us through another day of wasted time and stolen life. When our living, self-created, social-history is nowhere to be found, as everything that might have been lived has been replaced, repackaged, and sold back to us by the flattening and constricting social reality of bosses, bureaucrats, shopping malls, the televised drumbeat of tonight's reruns interlocked with mind numbing advertising barrages — what is left to fight for, to realize, to revolutionize? And, this reality is that of the 'successes' of modern life — those who manage to scratch out a "living" by successfully selling themselves in the universal, omnipresent brothel of commodity capitalism. But what is not usually acknowledged is the discrepancy of the exchange — what is handed over for a wage can never be purchased back — which is, of course, your life. The reality of exploitation thus has two dimensions, the quantitative (surplus-value extraction), and the qualitative — the exchange of your living energies for a wage, for a quantity of cash. And thus the two dimensions interconnect, and both require the reduction of your self to the level of a commodity, a thing that takes its assigned place in the hierarchy of things and their prices. So behind the woeful laundry list of modern ailments, which are really symptoms, there hides a singular issue — which is, how do we actually live, everyday? And what is the relationship between how we live and the reproduction of our own deteriorating social conditions? In other words... how do we comply and reproduce the conditions that are making this life increasingly unlivable?

Thus, begins the revolved perspective. This involves coming to the realization we, potentially, have the freedom to choose ourselves, to recreate ourselves, to realize ourselves, and engage in a project of remaking this world into something more human, beautiful, artistic, compassionate, livable — and we can make the existentialist commitment to do so. But we immediate realize that if we could just do this, then most likely, the problem would not be there in the first place, we would already be living in a democratic, self-managed utopia, where our ideas, desires, plans, projects already involved the means and abilities to make our dreams into realities. Our decisions would actually have a direct social-historical potency. Our individual means of expression would already involve a social means of action. The reality is we do not have the ability to just remake the world, as there are social conditions, hierarchical power relations, class interests, and authoritarian controls that make such a project seem extremely unlikely, if not impossible. To begin to see the nature of the problem is to see that it is so all-encompassing, and socially-extensive, and internally psycho-personal, so that even the idea of radical transformation seems ludicrous. But we say, if this seems impossible, it is also the case that continuing human life on its current trajectory is also impossible. As was said over thirty years ago:

"The history of our times calls to mind those Walt Disney characters who rush madly over the edge of a cliff without seeing it, so that the power of their imagination keeps them suspended in mid-air; but as soon as they look down and see where they are, they fall."

— Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, "Part One: Power's Perspective", "Chapter 1: The Insignificant Signified", Aldgate Press (London: 1993)

But the idea of falling is not enough, we could fall right into the abyss and never really understand what happened or why. The crisis itself is never enough. We must awaken, awaken ourselves, not as an other-oriented chore of political indoctrination, but rather because we ourselves want a full, rich, adventurous life, a life of self-realization.

The capitalist system, in which humanity has long existed, could seize the stage of history not only because of its developing means of industrial production, but because it rendered human life into economic life. It created a self-referential dynamic system that rendered an expanding population dependent on its economic social forms. Once this system became established, the class hierarchies it necessitated could ride the wave of the expanding economy. This expansion has gone on to colonize the world. We live in global capitalism. But we, the alienated human results of this development, have no such economic wave to catch, we cannot create an "economic" alternative because it would be, in reality, more of the same. Thus, we can only begin by becoming something else, by readjusting the target, by once again revolving the perspective.

"The proletariat cannot itself come to power except by becoming the class of consciousness. The growth of productive forces cannot guarantee such power, even by way of the increasing dispossession which it brings about. A Jacobin seizure of power cannot be its instrument. No ideology can help the proletariat disguise its partial goals as general goals, because the proletariat cannot preserve any partial reality which is really its own.... Constantly growing capitalist alienation at all levels makes it increasingly difficult for workers to recognize and name their own misery, forcing them to face the alternative of rejecting the totality of their misery or nothing.... Proletarian revolution depends entirely on the condition that, for the first time, theory as intelligence of human practice be recognized and lived.... It requires workers to become dialecticians and to inscribe their thought into practice."

— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, "Chapter 4: The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation", Zone Books (New York: 1995)

We say, revolutionary struggle, on any level, has its own rewards. It is actually the healthiest activity you can do right now — comprehend, transform, radicalize yourself while comprehending, transforming, and radicalizing the world. You are the alien world which oppresses you, your personal health is your social health. You are the heart of subjectivity, your possibilities are infinite, once you shed the shell of being reduced to an object. Your life is the adventure of adventures, your consciousness and existence the mysteries of mysteries. An ancient religion once talked of those who have "discovered the Self." Are you awake to your self? Do you remember that you actually exist? Are you remembering to live this life? What does it take to keep you awake? Tick tick tick tick....

This is a real-time endeavor, in social and personal space, and the intention is to make this project the defining content of our daily lives. This means discovering the ways we do not now live authentically, as we are trapped by the demands of an alienated and reified social life which surrounds and envelops us, that smothers us like yesterday's stale dust, that covers our eyes, blocks our sunlight, and, at best, maintains us in a silent and numbing isolation and pain.

Everything may conspire against us — work, habit, routine, false choices, ersatz lifestyles, media manipulation, the commodity economy, capitalism, religion, politics, the spectacle — our enemies are endless and everywhere. But still, you who are now reading this, realize that you breathe, think, dream, fantasize, laugh, make love, and can awaken. These are our lives, our time is now. We will learn to fight for ourselves, and to make any compromise with misery unacceptable and impossible. We will learn to dissolve the armors of obligatory alienation, the muscular strait-jacketing that cramp our bodies and minds. We will create in ourselves a dynamic of personal and social liberation, and rediscover the wonder and mystery that we each carry as our true inheritance. We will unlock our secret desires and passions, and bring-into-play a clandestine intelligence that lives within, as we seek to create the social forms that can challenge the current alienated and reified social-class-authoritarian hierarchy.... Daily life and global capitalism, social alienation and personal desire, transcendent experience and radical liberation — all parts of the same struggle for an authentic life.... There are more truths lived in twenty-four hours of a person's life than in all the philosophies. Let us make these truths our own. We will awaken together.

Release History

Release Date Released By Format and Features
v2.0 January 2008 Committee for Transcendence Compliant with XHTML 1.0 (strict) / CSS 1.0 standard
v3.0 February 2008 Committee for Transcendence Tied to site's uni-CSS file
v3.1 March 22, 2008 Committee for Transcendence Author update


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