Resistance or revolution : At first glance, this general pair of terms produces a stigma. It implies confessional positioning. Such “big” words often lead to the kind of non-commital statements that appear on the opinion market of the feuilleton. This is something I don’t want to take part in.
Resistance is the politics of baby steps: being on location concretely, getting up again and again, forming continuities and competences, clamping down your teeth with no intention of letting go yet tending to lose yourself in details, becoming reformist, making yourself comfortable in your little niche. In contrast, revolution is the grand gesture, the distant goal, the actual, whose details you can easily ignore. There is, however, also a great danger of losing the ground beneath your feet and finding yourself face down on the carpet of the salon.
Revolution doesn’t happen without resistance. But you can resist without ever wanting a revolution to overthrow the state whose structures you might never want to take over. Capitalism uses many forms of resistance. It attempts to utilize all forms of rolling over, freeing and disbanding social relations at, in order to then exploit the subjectivity released. Its Public Relations departments keeps quiet about all of the endangerments, hushing up the exploitation of subjects and resources and the many exclusions that take place in the process.
“Resistance or revolution” does not result in any compelling or closed connection. The little word ‘or’ suggests a decision, which has probably been discussed in entire shelve-rows of library-books, all denouncing one another as historical, outdated or reformist, continuing to write themselves automatically through their endless disputes.
As far as I am concerned, I feel far closer to an anarchist tradition. For me, deconstructing work, nation and state as well as the conditions of obedience that they create is the pre-requisite for emancipatory politics.
This is why I would rather tell you about a little episode that took place recently, instead of butting in on the argument between resistance or revolution.
At a party in early summer, late at night, after singing a bunch of Oldies, someone started up the International. Whoever was singing insisted that the others join in. Tiredly, gradually clearing their throats, they dragged through the song. Some people observed whoever else was singing closely, as though trying to reassure themselves that they weren’t alone in doing something that they found slightly embarrassing themselves, a mixture of lip service and not-being-able-to-deny-one’s-generation. For others, it was like leaving a movie that had stopped or that had seemingly never started playing in the first place. But there was also immediately quite a bit of headshaking, aggravated mumbling and hand-waves of refusal (Abwinken), as if to say, “This can’t possibly be true, where the hell am I, anyway?” There were also attempts at escape, such as getting another beer, going to the toilet, or simply staring into space neutrally, as if one were concentrating on something or another intently. There were attentive, frozen, desperate smiles
I can’t even write down all of the gestures and reactions. And then came the comments: what the hell is this, this is kitsch, nostalgia, who cares about this anyway. A fading echo of percussion on various objects paid testimony to a declaration of loyalty that evaporated as quickly as yet another change of subject. This embarrassing atmosphere led to a negotiation of whether or not the song had more verses or not. This had the effect of splitting the party into several groups. There were the believers, the experts, the sticks-in-the-mud, and those who displayed their loyalty, if nothing else, to history and its hopes and terrors. And then came the next song