It is well known that one of the charming features of the historic French vanguards was to cultivate an air of criminality. As artists with radical aspirations and a desire to escape aestheticism, many of their exponents did not shy away from publicly expressing their personal admiration for those who spilt blood. The most famous example is still Breton’s description of the “simplest surrealist act” which consisted of “going into the street, revolvers in hand and firing at random, as fast as possible, into a crowd”. It was 1930 and the surrealists – despite this verbal enthusiasm for indiscriminate violence, the fruit of a desire to “thus put an end to this petty system of debasement and cretinization in effect” – would later stand out by defending female anarchists who had killed reactionary politicians, daughters who had poisoned incestuous fathers, maids who had gotten rid of their masters, as well as Landru-type monsters.
However, in contrast to the surrealists and situationists who were fascinated by a Lacenaire cloaked in romanticism, today, those who wish to outdo them in the trite game of the vanguard’s provocations have altogether different reference points. The tone was set years ago by the editors of the journal Tiqqun, who in their legacy Appel boasted about being able to “serenely envisage the criminal nature of our existence, and of our gestures” and that “economics and politics are no longer to be distinguished. We are not afraid of forming gangs; and can only laugh at those who will decry us as a mafia”. Throwing a wink at a potential Mafia boss like Totò Riina and his racket – hysterical isn’t it?
So, after the massacre that took place in Paris on 13th November, this same milieu of the transalpine movement disseminated a delightful text on the authentic war currently underway. Hiding behind philosophical and literary quotes, it praises the heroic death, a concept so dear to the fascists, and pays homage both to the freedom conquered by those who managed to liberate themselves from the fear of death and from the anti-economic aspects of such a carnage (the latter being an aspect that was reclaimed by the Italian keepers of the same franchise). The thrill of the first is deep down understandable from the perspective of those who, at the very most, can share in the exhilaration that lies behind challenging cashbooks, taking up town hall armchairs and debating on mass media. But the second is truly embarrassing. Is it really imaginable to think that the soldiers of an Islamic State with a balance sheet of 2 billion dollars are anti-economics when they obey orders to carry out a military raid on enemy territory?
These are miserable times if even the theoretical stunts being pulled are not what they used to be.
Unlike a potential Breton or a Debord who did not hide their personal admiration for those individuals who were ready to challenge the law just to satisfy their own (darkest) passions, today there are those who only take into consideration organisations of power that use military force to achieve their own interests – and abhor social war in order to exalt the civil or religious war. Thus, there is a shift away from the defence of the violence of the individual who revolts, towards a defence of the terrorism of states. But if the authors of this masterpiece of ethical vileness do not want to end up old and trembling subject to the slavery of calculation, what is stopping them from combining thought and action?