ANGUISH as fuel
Back in June, I read some work about Bataille in relation to defeatism.
Proletarian anguish is a mobilizing factor rather than an immobilizing factor.
The screams and tears of the broken proletariat are not things to surrender to! Rather, it is these very screams and tears that must propel the proletariat towards sacrificial expenditure in class struggle.
The street lights emit a violent light, in contrast to the burning bank. Money in the air! The streets must become a place of combat, buildings brought to the ground.
We have two choices: lie down in defeat and continue our miserable existence under capitalism or live for once, and I mean genuinely live!
There is very little meaning in the life of a subject who lives under capitalism. There is no risk, no chance, no expenditure. There is nothing to generate meaning anymore. How can one differentiate between living and surviving? I would say that living is surviving but with “meaningful meaning”.
So, what is to be done?
One answer: will-to-chance and subsequent exacerbated class struggle as a form of expenditure.
We have two options:
- Option 1: Deny ourselves sovereignty and continue as a slave under the system of slavery that is capitalism. Deny ourselves freedom. Deny ourselves emancipation.
- Option 2: Spark something… Take the chance that no one will. In the light of capitalist post-modernity, it may look bleak. The large monolith of post-modern capitalism blocks the clouds and the proletariat are stuck within its shadow. We must grab hammers and start to bash down the large stone monolith! We must emancipate ourselves! BUT DO NOT STOP! Once this starts there is no going back! We must take the risk of losing all we have within our current capitalist society to go to a general economic mode of expenditure! The key is turned by risk, the gas is our anguish, the car is the proletarian mass! We must drive off the edge towards sovereignty! TOWARDS NOTHING! DO NOT STOP! Communism is not the end! Beyond! Beyond! We must go beyond all systems! We must TRANSGRESS ALL LIMITS AND PROHIBITIONS! Towards sovereignty, towards sacrificial expenditure, We head!
Freedom is nothing if it is not the freedom to live at the edge of limits where all comprehension breaks down — Georges Bataille, The Impossible Pg. 40
We are backed up into a corner and it is time to stop the fetal position! Get up and fight!
The streets are violent with those bright lights!
ANGUISH as sovereignty
In Reading Bataille Now, Jesse Goldhammer does an analysis of Bataille, anguish, and anarchism.
“Bataille counterintuitively maintains that the proletariat’s anguished feelings of self-loss and impotence are constitutive of a kind of sacred, subversive power, which he calls “sovereignty.”… subversive or revolutionary sovereignty derives its power from abjection and uselessness. Bataille writes, “Life beyond utility is the domain of sovereignty” (1991b, 198). Subversive sovereignty is experienced as unproductive loss and dissolution… this revolutionary form of power comes into being when limits are transgressed. Subversive sovereignty is the “power” invoked by the tragedy of self-loss, powerlessness, and abjection; it is the revolutionariness of anguish” (21).
We must take the chance. Revolution, insurrection, etc. may not have a positive utility, but the abject and potentially sovereign proletariat need not care. Of course the revolution won’t be productive! Why would it be? Why would we follow productivist and utilitarian models of “emancipation”? If the limits have yet to be transgressed, the risk wasn’t taken, and we don’t live at the limits of our very subjectivity, how have we been emancipated?
ANGUISH and the Will-to-Sacrifice
Jesse Goldhammer continues to analyze the relationship between anguish and Bataille in Reading Bataille Now:
“In order to liberate themselves, human beings must dare to sacrifice that which enslaves them. Paradoxically, it is the anguish of having nothing left to do that generates this will to sacrifice. Hollier notes that the heterogeneity generated by unproductive expenditure is the essence of this revolt” (25).
WE HAVE NOTHING LEFT! The proletarian condition is one of radical impoverishment, we must sell ourselves and our labor power. As a proletarian, “One wastes away; expending health and finance in orgies of narcosis, breaking down one’s labour-power to the point of destitution, pouring one’s every thought into an abyss of consuming indifference” (Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation Pg. 189). As proletarians, we have nothing left! Because we are sovereign in our abjection, we don’t even have ourselves! We have no other option than unproductive expenditure in the revolution!
If we have nothing, what would we even be sacrificing? We would be only sacrificing limits, in our deadly transgression! We would only be breaking our chains! For a moment, let’s dissolve all Kantian notions for a moment: don’t dare to know! DARE TO SACRIFICE!
ANGUISH, ABJECTION, and Kant
But a sort of rupture — in anguish — leaves us at the limit of tears: in such a case we lose ourselves, we forget ourselves and communicate with an elusive beyond. — Georges Bataille, Inner Experience Pg. 11
“the middle class excludes its repulsive other, the working class, but the working class is unable to expel its misery, and therefore it remains abject” (Paul Hegarty, Georges Bataille: Core Cultural Theorist Pg. 63).
We proletarians are abject! And in our abjection, we circulate. The horrors that repel us, also always pull us back into. We are, to now stir the dissolved Kantian salt in our Bataillean cup of water, nothing more than means for the bourgeois class to make a profit. We are not treated as ends under our post-modern capitalist society.
We feel unspoken anguish when we are unknowingly used. We may not feel it immediately after the fact, but eventually, we will feel the disparaging notion of being used and that it was all based on a false premise (a lie). We lash out at this, we lash out towards others and we lash out towards ourselves. Isolation is the best space for contemplation. Delusions form. The drug-like effects start to kick in. Our world becomes smaller, and sometimes we do too.
Capitalist society is based off the denial of this very Kantian principle (some would say that this is good others would say this is bad).
Anguish is a pervading feeling in life. In our lowest points (in terms of happiness, not decency), we feel anguish. In anguish, we lose ourselves. Just like laughter, just like an orgasm, ANGUISH is another simulacra of death. And my god, are we constantly fucking dying.
The more and more limit/inner experiences we find, the more suspensions of the ethical we find. Ethical theories that have the subject at their base become increasingly problematic and fallacious. Ethics could be reversed and inverted! Are ethics located in these limit/inner experiences? Is death ethical?