Saturday, February 25, 2006

Raoul Vaneigem

The Revolution of Everyday Life: The Reversal of Perspective

In this fractured world, whose common denominator throughout history has been hierarchical social power, only one freedom has ever been tolerated: the freedom to change the numerator, the freedom to prefer one master to another. Freedom of choice so understood has increasingly lost its attraction -- especially since it became the official doctrine of the worst totalitarianisms of the modern world, East and West. The generalization of the refusal to make such a Hobson's choice -- to do no more than change employers -- has in turn occasioned a restructuring of State power. All the governments of the industrialized or semi-industrialized world now tend to model themselves -- after a single prototype: the common aim is to rationalize, to 'automate', the old forms of domination. And herein lies freedom's first chance. The bourgeois democracies have clearly shown that individual freedoms can be tolerated only insofar as they entrench upon and destroy one another; now that this is clear, it has become impossible for any government, no matter how sophisticated, to wave the muleta of freedom without everyone discerning the sword concealed behind it. In fact the constant evocation of freedom merely incites freedom to rediscover its roots in individual creativity, to break out of its official definition as the permitted the licit, the tolerable -- to shatter the benevolence of despotism.



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