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by Citizen Caine (CwC)
Email: agent (at) crimethinc.net (unverified!)
Current rating: 0
01 Apr 2004
The new issue of Harbinger, the irregular flagship propaganda publication of the universally feared and loathed CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective, is now available—for free. This article, a vindication of dropping out as revolutionary strategy and practice in the face of criticism from Marx and other assorted hypocritical dropouts, is a foretaste of the typically controversial content.
Announcing… the new issue of Harbinger, the irregular flagship propaganda publication of the universally feared and loathed CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective, is now available—for free, as always! Mail demands for individual or bulk copies to CrimethInc. Labor Union of the Unemployed, P.O. Box 2133, Greensboro, NC 27402, USA, or visit www.crimethinc.com for information on how to obtain a copy electronically.
This article, a vindication of dropping out as revolutionary strategy and practice in the face of criticism from Marx and other assorted hypocritical dropouts, is a foretaste of the typically controversial content.
dropouts cutting class
exiting the economy as a strategy for reclaiming your life and saving the world
“If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.”
-Article 3, U.S. Military Code of Conduct
Déclassé: (adj. or n.) having lost class or status in society
De-class: (v.) to reject one’s social and economic role
Occupation. The word brings to mind images of Russian tanks rolling through the streets of Eastern Europe, or U.S. soldiers nervously patrolling hostile neighborhoods in Baghdad.
But occupation is not always so obvious; sometimes occupations go on so long that the tanks are unnecessary. They can be rolled back into storage, as long as the conquered remember they can return at any time—or behave as if the tanks were still there, forgetting why they do so.
How do you recognize an occupied people? The most common indication is a tithe they must pay to their conquerors, or a service they must render them. A tithe is a sort of rent the occupied pay just to live on their own lands; and as for the service—well, what’s your occupation? You know, what occupies your time? A job, probably, or two, or preparations for one, or recovery from one. You need that job to pay for rent, among other things—but wasn’t the building you live in built by people like yourself, people who had to work to pay their rent too? The same goes for all those other products you have earn money to pay for—you and others like you made them, but you have to buy them from the companies that employ you, and they neither pay you all the money they make off your labor nor sell the products at the cost it took to produce them. They’ve got you coming and going!
Our lives are occupied territory. Who controls the resources in your community, who molds the character of your neighborhood and the countryside around it, who sets your schedule day by day and month by month? Even if you are self-employed, are you the one who decides what you have to do to make money? For that matter, picture your idea of perfect bliss—does it bear a suspicious resemblance to the utopia you see in television commercials? Not only our time, but also our ambitions, our sexuality, our values, our very sense of what it means to be human—all these are occupied, transformed according to the demands of the market. As the days and nights of work and recovery add up, eventually you can’t help but wonder: have you lived ten thousand days, or just the same day ten thousand times?
And we aren’t the only territory under enemy control. The invisible occupation of our lives provides the resources for the military occupation of areas at the fringe of this conquered land, places where guns and tanks are still necessary to enforce the property rights of robber barons and the liberty of corporations to trade at the expense of hostile locals—some of whom may still remember what life is like without leases, salaries, or bosses.
You might not be all that different from them, yourself, despite having been raised in captivity. Maybe in the boss’s office, or in career counseling or romantic quarrels, whenever someone was trying to command your attention and your attention wouldn’t cooperate, you’ve been chided for being pre-occupied. That is—some rebel part of yourself is still held by daydreams and fantasies, lingering hopes that your life could somehow be more than an occupation.
There is a rebel army out in the bush plotting the abolition of wage-slavery, as sure as there are workers in every office and factory carrying on the guerrilla war with their own loafing, pilfering, and absenteeism—and you can join up, too, if you haven’t already. But before we start laying plans and sharpening spears, let’s rewind a bit and go over all the reasons to make a break for it, just in case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t learned about working life firsthand.
Everything you always knew about working but were afraid to ask
Liberation—it’s not working!
At this very moment, a black woman is looking after white women’s children instead of spending time with her own, a tree is being hewed down in a rainforest, a bullet is being fired from a soldier’s or policeman’s gun into one of our bodies.
Let’s focus in on the shooting. Those bullets don’t come out of nowhere. Each one was manufactured in a factory by workers—and at each of those factories, there was a boss, and a secretary, and a janitor or two. Someone kept track of accounts, someone made coffee in the mornings, somebody tacked up motivational posters on the walls. Other workers drove the trucks that delivered the bullets, loaded and unloaded them, pumped gasoline into their tanks, repaired them when they broke down. There was an advertising executive who promoted the product, a designer who made sure it looked its best, a programmer who maintained a webpage, a sales representative who negotiated the sale to the police force. Inside that police force, writing memos, training new officers, taking out the trash, were hundreds more workers, not to mention the thousands who invested in the corporation selling bullets, and the hundreds of thousands whose taxes funded the purchase. Every murder has one million accomplices—as does every polluted creek, every case of lung cancer, every teenager who stops eating lunch after seeing one too many fashion magazines. Guns don’t kill people, entire civilizations kill people.
Meanwhile, somewhere else somebody is outraged about another shooting. He writes an angry letter to a newspaper or email listserve, perhaps he even takes time out of his busy schedule to go to a demonstration. But between writing and demonstrating, he has bills to pay, so he, too, goes to work. Perhaps he works at a factory himself, or in an office or restaurant; regardless, his labor serves to keep the economy running at full tilt, and that economy keeps power centralized in the hands of the ones who ordered the shooting and benefit from it. Perhaps his hard work turns a profit that his employer deposits in a bank that loans money to the corporation that produces bullets; perhaps he serves lunch to an executive of the trucking corporation that delivered them; perhaps when he comes home from work, exhausted, he opens a bag of potato chips made by workers like himself in a factory owned by a company that pays taxes that fund the police department that used the bullets. He decries the injustices around him, but it is his labor and consumption, in concert with the labor and consumption of millions like him, that power the system that guns down innocents, cuts down forests, addicts people to nicotine, and teaches young people to hate their bodies.
Clearly, resisting this system can’t just be a part-time hobby inevitably undercut by the full time jobs that keep it in place. When the economy itself is an engine of destruction, withdrawing from it isn’t just a matter of personal taste, or a hedonistic exhibition of privilege—it’s the only way to engage with the total horror of it all, the only way to contest it in deed as well as word.
The man in our example may feel tiny and powerless in the sea of millions like him—and he’s right to feel that way, so long as the majority of his energy and time goes into perpetuating the processes he would oppose. But the good news is it takes all that labor to keep those processes going—modern capitalism is only possible on a global scale, can only sustain itself by expanding and expending constantly. That explains all the pressure to stay employed, pay bills, and “get ahead,” then: the cartels are terrified that someday, somewhere, someone will throw down his apron or briefcase with the words “I quit!”—and know exactly what he is going to do instead.
On that fateful day, whenever and wherever it happens, everything changes.
It sure costs a lot to make money!
“Cost of living” estimates are misleading, to say the least—there’s little living going on at all! “Cost of working” is more like it, and it’s not cheap.
Everyone knows what maids and dishwashers pay for being the backbone of our economy. All the scourges of poverty—malnutrition, addiction, broken families, debilitating medical problems—are par for the course; the ones who survive these and somehow go on showing up to work on time are working miracles, albeit for senseless ends. Think what they could accomplish if they were free to apply this power to something other than staying just barely alive enough to earn more profits for their employers!
What about those employers, those fortunate enough to be higher on the pyramid? You would think earning a higher salary would mean having more money and thus more freedom, but in practice it’s not that simple. Every job entails hidden costs in proportion to the wages it provides: just as a dishwasher has to pay bus fare to and from work every day, a corporate lawyer is expected to be able to fly anywhere at a moment’s notice, to go to posh golf courses for informal business meetings, to own a small mansion in which to entertain dinner guests that double as clients. This is why it is so difficult for anyone, at any salary, to save up enough money to quit while they’re ahead and get out of the rat race: trying to get ahead in this world basically means running in place1. At best, you might move on to a fancier treadmill, but you’ll have to run faster to keep on it.
And these merely financial costs of working are the least expensive. In a well-known survey, people of all walks of life were asked how much money they would need to live the life they wanted; from pauper to patrician, they all answered approximately double whatever their current income was. That is—not only is money costly to obtain, but, like any addictive drug, it’s less and less fulfilling! And the further up you get in the work hierarchy, the more you have to give up to remain there. The middle class worker must abandon his unruly passions and his conscience, must convince himself that he deserves more than the unfortunates whose labor provides for his comfort, must smother his every impulse to question, to share, to see through others’ eyes; otherwise, he would be unfit to play his social role, and some more ruthless contender would quickly replace him. Both blue collar and white collar workers must kill themselves to keep the jobs that keep them alive; it’s just a question of physical or spiritual destruction.
Those are the costs we pay individually, but there is also a global price to pay for all this working. There are work-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths: every year we kill people by the tens of thousands to sell hamburgers and health club memberships to the survivors. There are the pollution and destruction of the environment, obviously. And above all, more exorbitant than any other price, there is the cost of never learning how to direct our own lives, never getting the chance to answer or even ask the question of what we would do with our time on this planet if it was up to us. We can never know how much we are giving up by settling for a world in which people are too busy, too poor, or too beaten down to do so.
Last time economic recession caused massive layoffs in Japan, a social epidemic spread in which out-of-work businessmen, ashamed to admit to their families that they had lost their jobs and so unfamiliar with freedom that they could not imagine what to do with it, would leave their homes every morning to spend their former working hours sitting in parks, alone and despondent. What a sad civilization this is that creates such aimlessness and dependence!
The reproduction of production…
Why work, if it’s so expensive? Everyone knows the answer—there’s no other way to acquire the resources we need to survive, or for that matter to participate in society at all. All the earlier social forms that made cooperative, recreational lifestyles possible have been eradicated—they were stamped out by conquistadors, slave traders, and corporations that left neither tribe nor tradition nor eco-system intact. Contrary to capitalist propaganda, free human beings won’t crowd into factories to serve if they have other options—not even in return for name brand shoes and software.
Working every day, selling our labor on the market rather than using it to create new alternatives, we perpetuate the conditions that necessitate our submission to that market. Capitalism exists because we invest everything in it: all our energy and ingenuity in the production process, all our resources at the supermarket and in the stock market, all our attention in following the mass media. To be more precise, capitalism exists because our daily activities are it.
Instead of each buying our own set of tools that will inevitably sit rusting in the basement while we’re out working to cover the payments, we could all contribute a little towards a neighborhood toolset to be shared; likewise, instead of all trying to make it on our own, we could save a lot of trouble by meeting our needs in cooperative groups, outside the exchange economy—but we don’t, because we fear no one else would join in, because we’re too exhausted from working to get started, because we’re too busy to even meet each other in the first place.
Here we arrive at the catch-22 that maintains the status quo: revolution is not possible until people change their lives, and vice versa. But somebody has to break this vicious circle and test out its implicit corollary: that revolution is possible when people change their lives.
It is a foregone conclusion for the average white collar worker that she would never sell sexual favors on the street—but spending her life in a cubicle, engaged in meaningless repetitive tasks, she willingly sells away more precious parts of herself.
Obeying teachers, bosses, the demands of the market—not to mention traffic lights, parents’ expectations, religious scriptures, social norms—we are conditioned from infancy to put our needs on hold. Following orders becomes an unconscious reflex. As free-lance slaves hawking our lives hour by hour, we come to think of ourselves as each having a price; the amount of the price becomes our measure of value. In that sense, we become commodities, just like toothpaste and toilet paper. What once was a human being is now an employee, in the same way that what once was a cow is now a medium rare steak. Our lives disappear, spent like the money for which we trade them. Commodities are consumed, working to produce commodities, and we become less than the sum of our products.
Consumption—it’s not just a nineteenth century disease anymore!
Having become merchandise ourselves, we rush to consume merchandise to prove we still have some power. Purchasing, once a necessary evil suffered to obtain the resources necessary for survival, is now a sacred act; in the religion of capitalism, in which value comes from financial power and spending is thus proof of worth, it is a kind of communion. The store is the temple in which the consumer’s status as one who can buy is affirmed in the actual act of buying. That’s why a certain class of people will gladly pay for bland food at an expensive restaurant when there is cheaper, tastier fare right down the street. For the consumer incarnate, spending money is the main point; everything else—taste in food and clothes, investment in the latest technologies, even political sympathies—is just a means to that end.
This compulsive disorder, which keeps us all running back to our jobs to earn more money as the credit card bills pile up, would be bad enough on its own—but it’s also gobbling the world up from beneath our feet. In the absence of beautiful mountain tops destroyed by mining and pickup games of street hockey outmoded by televised spectator sports, we can’t imagine what there might be besides consumerism to fill the aching void selling our lives away leaves within us.
Work Mentality: Servitude
Many of us have a real problem with initiative. We can’t show up on time to band practice, but we never miss a day of work. We lack the discipline to keep up with the reading for our book clubs, but we always finish papers for school. This is a self-perpetuating symptom of employment; thanks to it, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to providing for our needs outside the exchange economy. When a person stops working, she usually goes through a period of restlessness and inactivity; but this is not a reason to keep looking to someone or something outside ourselves for direction—on the contrary, it’s one more reason to quit serving, so we can learn to come up with our own projects and come through on our commitments.
This is not easy in a society that punishes economic desertion with total embargo. But once our very survival depends on being able to direct our own activities rather than being incapable of doing so, we’re sure to learn what it takes not only to survive but also prosper without work. Necessity is the mother of invention, and unemployment is the uncle of necessity.
Work Morality: Sacrifice
Trading the moments of our lives away, we become so used to sacrificing that it comes to be the only way we know to express what we care about. We martyr ourselves for ideas, causes, love of one another, when these should be enabling us to find happiness together.
There are families, for example, in which people show affection by competing to be the one who gives up the most for the others. In such families, gratification is not only delayed, it is passed down from one generation to the next. The responsibility of finally enjoying all the happiness presumably saved up over years of thankless toil is deferred to the children; yet when they come of age, if they are to be responsible adults, they too must forswear all pleasure and begin saving to send their offspring to college.
But the buck stops here. If postponement breeds postponement, mightn’t the same be true of enjoyment?
But what about the children?
For that matter, what about the insurance coverage, car payments, student loans, overdue credit card bills, cat food, eating at your favorite restaurant, that digital camera you want to buy? Of course, existing in this trap, we’ve all invested ourselves in it, made lives out of our compromises with it—and that means whenever we think about getting out we have to consider the hostages affected by our choices.
But seriously—what about the children? Should they grow up with absentee wage slave parents, suffering secondhand stress and resentment—like we all had to? Should we go on selling ourselves to the highest bidder, treating our breakdowns with mood-stabilizing drugs and psychiatric therapy—so that they can too, one day? Let the children grow up without televisions or social status—in order that one day every child might!
Useful unemployment and its professional enemies
What if nobody worked? The assembly lines would stop, forsaken plastic gadgets would sit forever on their shelves, paper money would be used as firestarter as people reverted to barter and even gift-giving. Grass and flowers would grow out of cracks in the sidewalk unchecked. Pretty soon there wouldn’t even be enough working cars to have a traffic jam!
And, the nay-sayers announce, we would all starve to death. But we’re not exactly subsisting on air fresheners and Hallmark cards, are we? We built this world with our labor, and—thinking and acting enthusiastically for ourselves, rather than reluctantly for compensation—we could surely build a better one. That wouldn’t mean abandoning everything we’ve learned, it would just mean abandoning everything we’ve learned doesn’t work: hierarchy, coercion, cutthroat competition.
Once upon a time, before time cards and power lunches, everything got done without work. Knowledge and skills weren’t the exclusive domains of licensed experts, held hostage by expensive institutions; emotional and practical needs alike were met in the course of recreation. Acting outside the work/leisure paradigm today, we can do the same.
Henry Miller in Parisian poverty vs. the indignant and materialistic class war militants
Whenever you question the necessity or the wisdom of working, someone inevitably accuses you of self-indulgence, laziness, privilege. Working is an emotionally charged issue.
Let’s be frank about this: in an oppressive society, the moment of self-liberation is often experienced as a separation from, or even a lashing out against, one’s fellows and former coworkers: “Those slaves!” Those who would propel themselves out of the orbit of a lifestyle or ideology must build up quite a bit of momentum, and such intense energy can make them difficult to bear; being judgmental is a sign of life, as one wise woman put it.
But in the long run, if such escapees are to succeed in forging a different life, they must find common cause with others, and eventually make their way back to the ones whose society they fled—as the context for individual lives is determined by the content of all lives, liberation is for all or none. Resentment among workers and self-righteousness among ex-workers are twin obstacles that must be overcome—as are all sentiments that proceed from our own insecurities.
So much class war is really about envy. If we didn’t subconsciously feel that the ruling class’s position indicates their superiority, our campaigns against them would be conducted with more pity than spite. But if we’re right that wealth and power are not the greatest goods, our foes, the supposed victors of the class struggle, can’t be any better off than we are. We shouldn’t strive for what they have and are, but desert the whole equation. We shouldn’t seize their means of production—all this production is itself destructive, and would probably be impossible without the accompanying hierarchies—but destroy and replace them. This can begin right now, in our own lives.
Making a virtue of necessity: “You can’t fire me, I quit!”
Unemployment isn’t foreign to everyone in this country—in fact, many of us don’t even have a choice in the matter. Textile factories close down, jobs emigrate overseas, family farms are seized, startup companies go broke, corporate offices downsize, and we end up with pink slips instead of paychecks… and, as everyone knows, the longer you are unemployed, the less employable you become.
The unemployed, too, have a job to do in capitalism—to be miserably, forbiddingly defeated. Fortunately, like any job, this is a job that can be quit.
If you’ve lost your job and can’t find a new one, all the potential energy and free time that was being taken from you is now back in your hands—get active with it! Take all your crazy ideas, and whatever resources you can get your hands on, and put them at the disposal of all-out revolution! Make your liberation into a godsend, and choose—however retroactively—a life of gainful unemployment!
This is hard to do, of course, when it feels like the whole world is telling you that you are a failure and your life now has no meaning. This is where communities come in. We’ll need each other’s love and support more than ever as we set out into this unknown—not least because, as the demands of the market have broken up almost all the social infrastructures our ancestors had, the workplace is now one of the only places people interact. We need to build connections with each other that can provide for all the needs we’ve relied on institutions to handle—and above all, we need one another to build up the momentum that living and acting against the grain requires.
Not only should our communities take care of their own, but they should also be accessible and welcoming to others. There are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed in this nation alone—think how much unharnessed energy they have! Must they languish in dejected isolation from one another, when they could be rescuing the world from corporate greed, mass alienation, and ennui? Every neighborhood and township should have an ex-workers’ union, open to all, offering a variety of starting places for idle hands to do what businessmen have always called the devil’s work.
But with what resources will we do this work, being flat broke and all? Workers aren’t the only thing being thrown out, you know—wastebaskets and sidewalks overflow with our fellow trash, yearning to be put back into circulation. If there weren’t enough food in the garbage to go around, we scavengers would be fools to encourage others to join us—but here in the flagship nation of conspicuous consumption and waste, there’s far more than that. Every night at closing time, enough useful material to feed, clothe, and equip several armies of insurgent ex-workers enters the dumpsters of this country. Hell, there are whole districts standing empty, waiting to be occupied and put to use! Without jobs, we have the time and energy we need to reclaim these; all we need is the networks to do so, and the nerve to decide that we deserve such playgrounds.
The working class may not have yet managed to sock it to the system, but those of us without work have both the free time and a good reason to do so. And the alternatives—alcoholism, homelessness, incapacitating depression, total ostracism—don’t have much to recommend them. All power to the unemployed—so we can learn to employ our own power!
The question of lifestyle
A person who fails to find a way of life that integrates her political beliefs, social inclinations, and personal needs into one total approach will forever be disabled choosing between them, her choices either cheating her of parts of herself or canceling each other out.
Once upon a time it was chic for certain radical infighters to accuse their foes of being “lifestyle anarchists,” the implication being that they were more focused on enjoying their own lives than on Changing The World. But it is actions that matter, not theories, and an anarchist or activist whose practice does not extend into every aspect of her life, comprising a total lifestyle, is an anarchist or activist in theory only—that is to say, “lifestyle anarchism” is the only anarchism. Similarly, the ultimate question for anyone seeking social change is how to make it possible for people to live differently—and a little field experience goes a long way toward that end.
At war with class
Let’s be clear: we’re not just talking about quitting jobs here, but about deserting and ultimately destroying the class system itself. Traditional revolutionary ideology has extolled membership in a revolutionary class, the proletariat, which fights for its interests against other classes. In place of this gang rivalry, we propose a universal rejection of all possible positions within the social order, in order to create classless communities.
The capitalist economy reduces not only individuals but entire demographics and nations to their economic functions. This is the enforcement of stereotypes as reality: under corporate monoculture, you can’t grow anything but bananas in the banana republic, and the same goes for silicon valley and motor city. Such stereotyping is a mania we should leave behind with capitalism.
Waging déclassé war means resisting the temptation to establish new standards or norms of resistance; the communist glorification of “the worker” is no less alienating than the capitalist glorification of the movie star. This is not a struggle for the triumph of one class or ideology over others, but an ongoing cultural war against all the roles currently on the market—and against markets, classes, and ideologies in general.
Refusing to play our class roles, ceasing to evaluate and engage with ourselves and each other according to the logic of capitalism, we undermine the assumptions that perpetuate it. When it is impossible for others to interact with you in any of the ways prescribed by the market—they can neither sell you real estate nor career counseling, neither peg you as a spoiled student nor a despondent pauper—your every encounter has the potential to jerk them out of their roles as well.
Make no mistake about it—in a system that runs on exploitation, desertion and refusal are essential to any effective resistance, are indeed the essence of resistance. Whether domination and submission or cooperation and consensus triumph as the predominant social forces is decided every day by the activities people participate in. Most people don’t much like pollution, warfare, or brainwashing, but are too busy selling their labor to manufacturers, warmongers, and advertising agencies to do anything about them. If we are to put an end to these, there is no substitute for taking our lives and assets out of their hands, and out of the cycles of contention of which their power is but a symptom.
The Disaster is not just the work of an elite few. Every class is complicit in maintaining it: the bosses’ management would be nothing without the workers’ labor, and even the unemployed do their part by staying out of the way. We all have to stop playing our roles, whatever they may be. This will take different forms for different individuals, according to the classes they are escaping and the details of their lives. It could mean quitting work completely: cutting your commodity consumption down to the bare minimum, exploring what resources are available in abundance outside the exchange economy, and staking everything on finding another way to live. Alternatively, it could mean turning your job against capitalism: surreptitiously redirecting resources from the company to the community, or sabotaging from the inside. As no employer will ever pay you the full value of your labor, nor can playing by the rules in even the most civic-minded profession ever counteract the total impact of the system in general, you should never take a job without having some trick up your sleeve to even the scales. And if you have been thrown aside by the economy entirely, de-classing might mean taking advantage of having nothing to lose to make your poverty cost the ones who are counting on you to give up—or finding a way to convey how things look from where you are to people in very different social positions. Whatever it takes, no more business as usual.
Whereas merely individualist efforts towards workless living can remain within the territory of hedonism, a collective struggle for freedom from wage slavery amounts to civil war. Such a struggle requires that we build massive support networks and connections between disparate social circles. There are already individuals and groups from many different demographics out of work, or at least disillusioned with it; they must discover what they have to share with one another, and how to do so. This will demand a ruthless clarity from each of us about what our personal advantages are and how they can be applied for the benefit of all. Really de-classing yourself does not mean cashing in your privileges, but contesting them and privilege in general by putting them at the disposal of those who have less or different privileges.
This is the opposite of the charity usually practiced by the bourgeoisie, which reinforces deeper inequalities than the superficial ones it addresses: in offering handouts without actually correcting disparities in means and status, would-be do-gooders only send the message that not only are they harder working and thus wealthier than the unfortunates they assist, they are also morally superior to them. Children of the middle class, if they would establish solidarity with those of other classes, must actually live as they do, facing the same challenges; you can only make common cause in a common context.
Déclassé war manifests a working model of the world we fight for and dream of. Those who would otherwise be segregated from each other by class can forge mutually beneficial relationships in which each provides the resources to which the others have been denied access. Historically, the most revolutionary situations have resulted from alliances between refugees of different classes, who met outside the walls in the course of their struggles for freedom. Arming the homeless with the means of the bourgeois and the ex-bourgeois with street knowledge, bringing together migrant workers, temp slaves, hobos, unemployed philosophers, and infuriated accountants in a class to end all classes and a war to end all wars, we can give capitalism a real run for its money.
The time is ripe for a new resistance. As manufacturing jobs disappear overseas, this nation is shifting from a production-oriented economy to a service-oriented one. With this shift comes increased job insecurity, more frequent relocation of jobs and workers alike, and the total demoralization and atomization of the workforce. Whether or not the old class-based organizing strategies were ever effective, they are less and less so today. Our jobs were once the one thing we all had in common, and therefore the best site for organizing opposition; our labor is still the foundation of the economy, but as jobs no longer provide us with a reliable foundation for our own lives, let alone for organizing, we must come up with a strategy that solves the challenges this instability poses and takes advantage of it to build momentum towards a complete transformation of life. Déclassé war is just that strategy.
Antivocation provocation by Average Guy Fawkes and Citizen Caine, CrimethInc. Labor Union of the Unemployed Local 47. If this sounds good in theory but you can’t imagine how to go about it in practice, we can provide a wide variety of concrete testimonials through any of the various CrimethInc. addresses. As for the admittedly cursory analysis of class and declassing, we’re confident you can work out the subtleties yourself.
Out of Order—Sorry for the Inconvenience!
We are not merchandise or mercenaries. We are not products that sell themselves. We cannot be bought or leased—we are already self-possessed.
What child earnestly dreams of growing up to be a grill cook, a popcorn vendor? What young heart yearns to manage advertising accounts or supervise fellow “team members” at a corporate supermarket? We are dropping out because the market offers us no wealth we can recognize. Digital video discs? We’re sick of watching actors, we want adventures of our own. Political parties, legislative solutions? We want, for once, the experience of using our own power, representing ourselves. Tell us we need more education, we’ll laugh—we know there isn’t room for all of us at the top, and we’re starting to question whether we want to be there, anyway. Tell us we need better work ethics, prescription drugs, career counseling, psychiatric care, perhaps a summer on the student hostel circuit, we’ll jeer—we know, finally, that the problem is not us. We are through with symptomatic treatment, blaming the victim. You always told us if we lost our jobs, it would be the end of the world—sounds like it’s worth a shot.
1 “A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” “I’d rather not try, please!” said Alice.