[piko!] pone di seguito tutti gli interventi pubblicati sul sito, in ordine cronologico.
nolapro è un software gratuito web based per la gestione d'impresa.
manca purtroppo di una traduzione in italiano, di cui mi sto occupando io. qualora qualcuno volesse dare una mano (sono circa 8.000 parole, non tantissime) prego di contattarmi via facebook (marco infussi, avatar un cagnolino bianco con una croce rossa sull'occhio) oppure commentando qui, oppure via email a 17[chiocciola]amolenuvolette.it .
cosa vuol dire web based: si installa (è uno dei pù facili) e si utilizza tramite browser (firefox, opera, safari). questo vuol dire che non è necessario installare nulla sui computer degli utilizzatori, e che il software va aggiornato solo sul server, evitando tante fatiche agli amministratori. è possibile utilizzarlo da ovunque: basta disporre di una connessione internet. per chi non avesse ancora capito, è come la posta elettronica o facebook.
cosa vuol dire gratis: in realtà è un software proprietario gratuito, non è open source. questo vuol dire che possiamo usarlo in tutte le sue funzionalità gratis, ma non modificarlo. dove ci guadagna la ditta che lo ha prodotto? perchè offrono assistenza, plugin a pagamento, e hosting su loro server e database sicuri per chi non potesse o non fosse capace ad installarselo da solo. è un modello di mercato che si chiama saas (software as service), ovvero hosting on demand.
cosa vuol dire gestione d'impresa: il software permette di gestire:
- ordini e database clienti / fornitori
- fatture e riba
- stipendi e dati dipendenti
- libro mastro, ovvero contabilità
- calcolo del tempo di lavoro dei dipendenti
- portale internet per business to business (b2b)
- punti vendita (pos)
- sistema di messaggistica interno
- sito di e-commerce basato su una versione modificata di os-commerce open source
perchè una traduzione: perchè per farlo usare a persone che non capiscono nulla di computer, figuriamoci cosa accadrà se il software è pure in inglese!
cosa si guadagna: la ditta che produce nolapro offre tutti i plugin, manuali e file delle traduzioni gratis per i traduttori, per un valore di 250$. in più - personalmente non sono interessato a questo, ma potrebbe essere uno stimolo per qualcuno di voi - potete diventare rivenditori di nolapro in italia.
alcuni link utili: consiglio di cominciare subito, anche per gioco, o almeno per provare il sofware:
- confronto dei principali software per la gestione d'impresa su wikipedia
- nolapro su wikipedia con recensioni imparziali
- forum di nolapro + istruzioni video per l'utilizzo training base
- istruzioni per tradurre nolapro leggere attentamente, è molto semplice
- sito in cui inserire la versione italiana, seguendo le sopracitate istruzioni
as i'm just back in italy, and as i have nothing else to do, i'll post some insights from my explorations in paris, france (2nd take, this time with my lovely domitilla).
eat & drink because this is - first of all - important to have enogh energy to walk
for a delightful lunch on the rive gauche, le comptoir (9, carrefour de l'odéon, 6th arr.), run by claudine and yves camdeborde, is unbeatable. this thirties-style bistro (complete with mirrored walls) seats just 20 inside and - in warmer months- another 16 on the sidewalk, and doesn't accept lunch reservations. but take this from a veteran: it's worth the hassle of waiting and not taking "non" for an answer. order the grilled tuna, which comes with the crispest vegetables, or opt for succulent souris de gigot (lamb knuckle) served with semolina. round out your meal with an indulgent cheese plate or double-sized pots de crème au chocolat.
ferdi (32, rue du mont-thabor, 1st arr.) serves "the best cheeseburger in paris." the tartare-worthy ground sirloin, cooked medium-rare and topped with a thick layer of cheddar and cheshire cheese, is available only at lunch, but don't worry if you don't make it till after sunset. in the evenings, the fashion-heavy crowd returns, its attention focused on ferdi's tapas-style small plates and potent mojitos and margaritas.
la coupe d'or (330, rue st.-honoré, 1st arr.), bang opposite colette, is the place to hang out, eat croque monsieurs made with poilâne bread, drink café, and watch droves of gazelle-like fashionistas. make them envious: order a scoop (or two) of the cult-status berthillon ice cream.
the packaging at fouquet (22, rue françois 1er, 8th arr.) - glass jars with dark brown-and-white labels - makes for an amazing presentation of this store's very expensive (and addictive) bonbons, caramels, and truffles.
patisserie sadaharu aoki (35, rue de vaugirard, 15th arr.) sells wonderful macarons and "buche de noel" christmas cakes.
to eat at pierre gagnaire (6, rue de balzac, 8th arr.) be ready to begin your fight for one of their hard to get reservations. gagnaire earned his three stars from the guide michelin (the highest possible rating) by creating inventive, often astonishing food, served in a parade of small plates. you may find yourself dining on foie gras paired with mussels and bean sprouts; or tiny rolls of veal stuffed with veal liver; or crayfish tempura in a sweet and sour sauce. it may all sound odd, but it tastes exquisite. a pricey meal, but well worth it.
and also: taverne henri iv (13, place pont neuf) , flo brasserie la coupole (102, bd du montparnasse).
antiques & weird and all the kind of stuff i love
tombées du camion (17, Rue Joseph de Maistre Paris, 18th arr.; also in a stand in marche au puces) is an impressive shop: lots of "anciens et oubliés, nombreux bijoux, perles, et accessoires de mode, stocks exclusifs d’usines abandonnées, séries industrielles, fonds de merceries en abondance, jouets manufacturés du siècle dernier, matériel de laboratoire, petits objets de culte à profusion, stocks de fabricants et grossistes, souvenirs des enseignes d’autrefois, trésors artisanaux en quantité, accumulations en tout genre, gadgets historiques et traditionnels, archéologie de l’enfance..."!
antiquarian pierre passebon, the curator of galerie du passage (20-22, galerie véro-dodat, 1st arr.), has impeccable taste and stocks the best 20th-century french furniture, made by the likes of jean royère and emilio terry, as well as works by contemporary artists such as wendy artin.
galerie j. kugel (25, quai anatole-france, 7th arr.), in the palladian hôtel collot, is run by brothers nicolas and alexis kugel, whose clients include countless rothschilds, hubert de givenchy, and henry kravis. the mansion's four floors are full of superb antiques, among them mirrors from the throne room of the 18th-century saxon king augustus ii (the strong) and an eye-popping collection of renaissance jewelry.
for a truly one-of-a-kind gift, visit claude nature (32, blvd. st.-germain, 5th arr.), a taxidermist's treasure trove of pink flamingos, foxes, and deer's heads. the spare boutique's glass cabinets display exotic shells, framed butterflies, scarabs, and the deadliest of scorpions.
papier+ (9, rue du pont-louis-philippe, 4th arr.) and never leaves paris without stocking up on lavender diaries, simple blue notecards, a stash of colored pencils, and photo albums.
look further about passage couverts below.
palais de tokyo (13, ave. du président-wilson, 16th arr.), across the seine from the tour eiffel, is a huge space with mile-high ceilings that exhibits the works of artists such as vanessa beecroft, jeff koons, and kara walker. other highlights include a bookshop and blackblock, the groovy boutique.
in the marais you can find galerie 213 (58, rue de charlot, 3rd arr.), which is devoted not to painting but to the art of some of france's leading photographers.
a real treasure is galerie yvon lambert (108, rue vieille-du-temple, 3rd arr.). its owners are hailed as the discoverers of minimalism and conceptual art.
a more traditional gallery is in st-germain-des-prés, with galerie adrien maeght (42, rue du bac, 7th arr.).
prêt-à-porter and outlets to spend your whole-life's savings!
the stylish mona blonde picks only the crème de la crème of the latest collections for her eponymous store mona (17, rue bonaparte, 6th arr.). you'll find trousers by chloé's phoebe philo, skirts by lanvin's alber elbaz, suits by alexander mcqueen, and shoes by marc jacobs.
madame andré (34, rue du mont thabor, 1st arr.) sells the gilles dufour collection plus a mix of inexpensive items, such as perky underwear by i. c. pearl and colorful bangles from india, displayed in a candy-pink interior.
follow the lead of savvy parisians to l'habilleur (44, rue de poitou, 3rd arr.) for last season's designer clothes - both men's and women's - at exceptional prices.
calesta kidstore (23, rue debelleyme, 3rd arr.) is the colette for kids. this sparse concept store sells the trendiest european accessories and clothes, including t-shirts by london's no added sugar and hippie pieces by belgian designer pilar.
20 sur 20 (3, rue des lavandières st. opportune, 1st arr.) is every chic local's secret weapon. bakelite charm necklaces jingling with cherries, along with other costume jewelry dating from the forties to the sixties, can be had at serious bargain prices.
talmaris (61, ave. mozart, 16th arr.) is the destination of choice for dior's de castellane and ysl's stefano pilati for their engraved personal stationery. heavy stock is available in virtually every color of the rainbow. owner alain-paul ruzé also has an unbeatable selection of china, glassware, photograph frames, and children's toys.
sr store (64 rue de alésia, 14th arr.). that's sr as in sonia rykiel - deep discounts bring these pricey items out of the stratosphere and closer to earth.
cacharel boutique outlet (114, rue d'alésia, 14th arr.) with a voluminous selection of last season's offerings at significant reductions.
stock jeans ober (111, bis rue alesia, 14th arr.): this closet-size store is stuffed with a wide range of body-hugging jeans and pants by the one and only french jeans label, ober. you'll pay half what you would pay at printemps.
another great street for bargain hunters is just around the corner from the bon marché department store: rue st-placide (6th arr.): here you'll find great discounts on women's apparel, children's clothes, and linens, as well as some of the less expensive chain stores.
mouton à cinq pattes (8 and 18, rue st-placide, 6th arr.): sift through the packed racks of designer markdowns and you just might find moschino slacks or a gaultier dress at a fabulous price. if you do, grab it fast - it might not be there tomorrow. these are some of the best designer discounts in town, but you really have to look. the store at no. 8 is women's apparel only; no. 18 serves both sexes, as does their other equally overstuffed store at 138 blvd. st-germain also in the 6th arr.
caroll stock (30 and 51, rue st-placide, 6th arr.), which is the outlet shop for the elegant caroll brand.
and don't forget rue de la chausée d'antin (9th arr.), which bisects the galeries lafayette department store. laden with small shops and good prices, this street excels at moderately priced shoe stores, such as la chausseria (39, rue de la chausée d'antin, 9th arr.).
culture, special places, little hidden surprises
le musée du parfum
9, rue scribe, 1st arr.
rer: a station auber / metro station opéra (lines 3,7 and 8)
parc de belleville
16/18, rue antoine bourdelle
metro: montparnasse / bienvenüe
c/o hôtel carnavalet
23, rue de sévigné
metro: saint-paul (line 1) / chemin vert (line 8)
main entrance at rue botzaris, 19th arr.
metro: buttes-chaumont / botzaris (line 7 bis)
nearby sights and attractions: pere lachaise cemetery, belleville neighborhood, canal saint-martin
jardin des plantes
place valhubert, 5th arr.
metro: gare d'austerlitz (line 5, 10)
rer: gare d'austerlitz (line c)
bus: line 24, 57, 61, 63, 67, 91
nearby sights and attractions: the latin quarter, mouffetard neighborhood
7, boulevard beaumarchais
if you need an indie aircut... :D
the promenade plantée
main entrance at avenue daumesnil, above the "viaduc des arts".
metro: bastille (line 1, 5, )
marché aux fleurs
on sundays, the area is transformed into the marché aux oiseaux, where you can admire rare birds from around the world.
marché aux pouches
metro: porte de clignancourt
there are several markets and galleries so, be prepared to long walks.
bus no. 29
begins at gare st-lazare (métro: st-lazare), aboard no. 29, you pass the famous opera garnier (home of the phantom), proceeding into the marais district, passing by paris's most beautiful square, place des vosges. you end up at the bastille district, home of the new opera. what we like about this bus is that it takes you along the side streets of paris and not the major boulevards. it's a close encounter with back-street paris and a cheap way to see the city without commentary.
here is just a sampling of the 20 glass-covered, shopping arcades that exist today. wander through them, browse, shop, stop for a coffee, or a snack in the bistros. thrill to the fact that you are shopping the way parisians have done for centuries and following in the footsteps of illustrious writers such as honoré de balzac, alfred de musset, gérard de nerval, and emile zola.
galerie vivienne (4, rue des petits champs or 6, rue vivienne or 5, rue de la banque; 2nd arr.; metro: bourse or pyramides): built in 1823, this is considered to be the most elegant passage with a beautiful mosaic floor, hanging lamps, symmetrical arches, and pretty potted trees. it's filled with high-fashion boutiques, antiques shops and old bookstores. (it converges with the galerie colbert.)
galerie colbert (6, rue des petits-champs or 6, rue vivienne; 2nd arr.; metro: bourse or pyramides): built in 1826 to rival the galerie vivienne, the passage was restored in the 1980s by the bibliothèque nationale (national library). it leads to a magnificent, glass-covered rotunda with a bronze statue by charles-françois leboeuf.
passage du grand-cerf (145, rue saint-denis or 10, rue dussoubs; 2nd arr,; metro: etienne marcel): built in 1835, this passage is stunningly stylish with wrought-iron work, wood-paneled shop fronts and shimmering-glass, skylight roof. it is lined with boutiques for fashion designers, artisans and decorators.
passage des panoramas (11, boulevard montmartre or 10, rue saint-marc; 9th arr.; metro: grands boulevards): built in 1799, this is the oldest covered passage in paris and the first public place lit by gaslight in 1817. it's still bustling with activity with stamp collectors, antique postcard boutiques, restaurants, new trendy shops and venerable establishments such as the théâtre des variétés opened in 1807. (it links to several other passages: galerie des variétés, galerie feydeau, galerie montmartre, and galerie saint marc. and, it's across from the passage jouffroy, which leads to the passage verdeau.)
passage jouffroy (10-12, boulevard montmartre or 9, rue de la grange-batelière; 9th arr.; metro: grands boulevards): built in 1847, passage jouffroy is full of shops selling collectible film posters, old books, postcards, vintage toys and interesting bric-a-brac. there's also a quirky wax museum, musée grévin.
passage verdeau (31bis, rue du faubourg-montmartre or 6, rue de la grange-batelière; 9th arr.; metro: le peletier): built in 1847 with neo-classical decor, the passage verdeau is only one block long and lined with old-fashioned shops selling vintage photos and prints, stamps, old books and postcards. this is my favourite one, and here is set 21, passage verdeaux, a short story that i have written a long time ago. (note: 21 is curiously a non-existent address in that passage, between cafè verdeaux - now closed, at number 23 - and a chocolate shop at 19.)
galerie véro-dodat (19, rue jean-jacques rousseau or 2, rue du bouloi; 1st arr.; metro: louvre rivoli): built in 1826 by two butchers, véro and dodat, this neo-classical style passage, with painted ceilings and copper pillars, has art galleries and antique shops selling everything from fine stringed instruments to collectible toys and dolls.
strolling and wasting time and losing the path to the nearest metro
there are many great paris walks, but you really need to pay attention along the way. strolling through the city's streets lets you soak up the parisian ambiance like a native.
hopefully, when the highline in new york is done, it will look like this! this former train viaduct, built in 1859 to carry a commuter train line, has been transformed into a delightful pedestrian walkway. the path, about 3 miles long, is planted with all types of flora - rosebushes, climbing plants, lime and hazel trees - and, as you stroll along, you can see right into apartment windows, courtyards, and over the rooftops of paris. the elevated walkway connects with trails and bike paths that lead straight into the bois de vincennes. but, you don't have to go all the way to the end: at various points along the path, there are stairways leading down to avenue daumesnil, paralleling the promenade plantée.
viaduc des arts
once you reach the sidewalk, you can head right into a shopping stroll because the beautiful vaulted spaces underneath the viaduct archways have been transformed into galleries, ateliers and shops. everything from designer furniture, to handmade jewelry, to tapestry and puppetry is showcased in this unique setting. some 50 different artisans, working in a variety of materials and styles, have made the viaduc des arts a lively shopping or browsing experience with craft demonstrations and special exhibitions. you can also have coffee or a bite to eat. if the consumerism gets too much for you, head back up to the promenade plantée.
la rue mouffetard
metro: censier-daubenton / maubert-mutualité
yes, i know, it's gotten very touristy, but it's still a great street with a lot of history and character and attention must be paid. rue mouffetard runs down the hill sainte-geneviève from rue thouin (near the panthéon) to the église saint-médard at the intersection of rue monge. it is said to be one of the oldest parisian thoroughfares, dating back to roman times. it is as picturesque as ever with many little restaurants, old-established merchants, famous taverns, butcher shops, and cheese vendors along with some new, trendy boutiques. the open-air market in the church square sells an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as charcuterie and cheeses. it's very lively on a sunday morning when you're out for your stroll.
strolling along the canal saint-martin, which runs from the place de la republique to the place de la bastille de stalingrad, is a very pleasant experience. the canal was constructed in the early 1800s to ease barge traffic on the seine and bring drinking water into paris. today, it's just a lovely place to hang out. on sundays, the quai de valmy and quai de jemmapes, streets paralleling the canal, lined with chestnut and plane trees, are open only to pedestrian and bike traffic. there's still some commercial barge traffic on the canal, but your best bet is a canal cruise with canauxrama or paris-canal.
port de plaisance de paris-arsenal
once an old navy harbor, located on the former moat of the bastille, the port de l'arsenal is now a nice mooring for pleasure boats, yachts, and houseboats. the port connects the seine with the canal saint-martin that leads to the la villette canal basin (this is the route the canal cruises take). it's nice to stroll along the banks, admiring the boats and the sunday sailors.
the garden at the maison de balzac (47, rue raynouard): honoré de balzac labored away on his literary masterpieces and hid from creditors in this little house. although the rooms are small, the spot is divine with a beautiful expanse of lawn. there's no café here but, on a nice day, grab a book (perhaps balzac's le père goriot) and while away the hours in the garden. walking around this district is also a treat. in the movies, you can see the eiffel tower from every apartment; in this neighborhood, you really can.
the garden & tea house at the musée de la vie romantique (16, rue chaptal; métro: pigalle or st-georges) during the romantic period, numerous artistic types lived in the neighborhood. this cozy house belonged to painter ary scheffer, and the elites of the movement gathered here - artists ingres and delacroix; musicians chopin and liszt; writers turgenev and george sand, among others. today, the house is a shrine to author george sand (née aurore dudevant). the garden café is a shrine to relaxation and bliss.
the grounds at the manufacture nationale des gobelins (42, ave des gobelins): from outside, it doesn't look like much, but the property of the gobelins tapestry factory is probably my favorite spot in all of paris. it's a walled wonderland that's hard to believe still exists. since 1662, some of the most beautiful tapestries in the world have been woven on these magnificent grounds. back in the day, some 250 tapestry-makers lived with their families within the gobelins walls. in addition to wages, they each received a tiny plot of land for a "kitchen garden." the dyers and weavers no longer live-in but the property remains the same. by all means, take the tour; admire the old tapestries and watch today's weavers at work, but be sure to linger on the grounds.
the café at the maison de l'architecture (148, rue du faubourg saint-martin; métro: gare de l'est): walking along the canal saint-martin, which runs from the place de la republique to the place de la bastille de stalingrad in the 10th arrondissement, is really enjoyable. this being paris, cafés abound. but midway along the route, near the gare de l'est, it's worth veering off for a stop at le café a at the maison de l'architecture. the maison is a meeting place for cultural exchange between architects, visiting researchers and lecturers. it's open to the public for workshops, lectures, exhibitions and special events. but, the best part is the lovely garden café hidden away behind high stone walls; a little piece of parisian paradise.
place des vosges (at the end of rue des francs-bourgeois; métro: chemin vert or saint paul): said to be the oldest square in paris, it's a knockout. it's not exactly hidden, but people often hurry by on the way to the maison de victor hugo or just stop long enough to snap a photo. there are chic cafes under the beautiful arcades that surround the square, so people tend to sit there. i suggest you plop yourself down on a bench right in the middle and soak up the atmosphere -- children playing, pigeons cooing, older folks soaking up the sun, neighbors gossiping - which is a cross section of all paris. (at the southwest corner, near no. 5, an exit door will lead you into the lovely garden of the hotel de sully - an added pleasure.)
parc de belleville (rue des couronnes, enter at rue piat; métro: belleville or pyrénées): the belleville neighborhood is a melting pot of cultures - algerian, moroccan, chinese, orthodox jewish, senegalese - with shops and restaurants that showcase the wonderful diversity of the city. the park is at the top of a hill, accessible from a staircase, then up winding pathways past vine-covered pergolas. it's worth the climb for some spectacular views of paris - yes, you can see the eiffel tower and the tour monparnasse from here. have a seat, gaze out and dream with paris at your feet.
clubs of various kinds for noctambules
7, rue du bourg-l'abbé, 3rd arr.
metro: etienne marcel;
11 quai francois-mauriac, 13th arr.
la fleche d’or
102 bis, rue de bagnolet
13, quai grands augustins
46, rue du faubourg st antoine
le caveau de la huchette
5, rue de la huchette
les bains douches
7, rue du bourg l'abbè
if you are with your girlfriend...
avoid areas around metro les halles, chatelet, gare du nord and stalingrad late at night.
in addition, avoid travelling to the northern paris suburbs of saint-denis, aubervilliers, saint-ouen, etc. after dark.
visitors to the above-mentioned areas may also take precautions by keeping a low profile and by refraining from wearing highly visible jewelry or clothing that identify them as members of a religion or political movement.
bonus: paris by arrondissement! useful!
obviously my list contains some hidden treasures and some simply non-tourist places in paris. but if it is your first time in this city, you can't forget to visit some of the main spots!
1st arrondissement: louvre
* musée du louvre (louvre museum)
* tuileries gardens
* jeu de paume-national galleries
* musée de l'orangerie
* palais royal (former seat of royal power)
* la comédie française (classic paris theater where french playwright molière once performed)
* place vendôme
* forum des halles (monstrous shopping center and district)
* eglise saint-eustache
* chatelet and the saint-jacques tower
* pont neuf bridge (oldest bridge in paris)
2nd arrondissement: bourse
* the rue montorgueil neighborhood
* grands boulevards neighborhood
* le tour jean-sans-peur
* paris stock exchange (bourse de paris)-- historic headquarters
* opéra comique
* bibliothèque nationale de france (french national library-- historic site)
* passage des panoramas
* le grand rex (historic movie theatre, club and concert hall)
3rd arrondissement: temple
* the marais neighborhood (also part of the 4th arrondissement)
* musée carnavalet (paris history museum and renaissance-era residence)
* picasso museum
* musée des arts et métiers
* hotel de soubise (renaissance-era mansion) and the french national archives
* musée de la poupée (paris doll museum)
* centre culturel suedois (swedish cultural center)
4th arrondissement: "beaubourg", the marais and the ile st-louis
* centre georges pompidou and the national museum of modern art
* the "beaubourg" neighborhood
* the marais neighborhood
* st-gervais st-protais church
* st-paul st-louis church
* hotel de sens (medieval mansion)
* place des vosges
* hotel de ville (paris city hall)
* old jewish district (rue des rosiers and le "pletzl")
* place de la bastille (shared by 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements
* ile saint-louis neighborhood
* notre dame cathedral
* seine river booksellers
* shoah memorial and museum
5th arrondissement: the latin quarter
* the sorbonne
* the panthéon
* place saint-michel
* musée and hotel de cluny (medieval museum and gardens)
* jardin des plantes
* la grande mosquée de paris (paris mosque, tearoom and hammam)
* institut du monde arabe
* rue mouffetard district
* arènes de lutece (roman-era coliseum)
* historic paris movie theaters
6th arrondissement: luxembourg and saint-germain-des-prés
* luxembourg gardens
* odéon theater
* saint-sulpice church
* saint-germain des prés neighborhood (and the historic abbey)
* café les deux magots and café de flore (former haunts of artists and writers)
* le procope (oldest café in paris)
* hotel lutetia (famous historic hotel)
7th arrondissement: orsay, eiffel tower and invalides
* eiffel tower and the champ de mars
* musée d'orsay
* french national assembly
* hôtel matignon (seat of the prime minister)
* école militaire
* hôtel des invalides (not a hotel at all, but a former military complex, and resting place of napoleon i)
* rodin museum
* musée de quai branly (recently opened indigenous arts museum)
* maillol museum
* eugène delacroix museum
* bon marché department store and gourmet market
8th arrondissement: champs-elysées and madeleine
* arc de triomphe
* avenue des champs-elysées (and surrounding district)
* grand palais
* petit palais
* elysée palace (home to french president)
* théâtre des champs-élysées
* eglise de la madeleine
* hôtel de crillon (one of world's oldest luxury hotels)
* maxim's art nouveau "collection 1900" museum
* musée jacquemart-andré
* musée cernuschi (asian art museum)
* parc monceau
* pont alexandre iii (one of the city's most opulent bridges)
9th arrondissement: opera garnier and grands boulevards
* opera garnier (historic paris opera)
* galeries lafayette department store (also see paris holiday lights and window displays)
* printemps department store
* musée grevin (wax museum)
* olympia theater and concert hall (historic performances by edith piaf and others)
* les folies bergères cabaret
* musée du parfum fragonard (perfume museum)
* musée de la vie romantique
* grands boulevards neighborhood
10th arrondissement: canal st-martin and goncourt
* canal saint-martin neighborhood
* place sainte-marthe
* new morning (famous paris jazz club)
* gare de l'est and gare du nord area
11th arrondissement: bastille and oberkampf
* place de la bastille (shared with the 4th and 12th arrondissements)
* cirque d'hiver
* oberkampf neighborhood (vibrant nightlife scene)
* edith piaf museum
* maison des métallos (former metalworkers' house; currently an arts and culture center)
* place de la république
12th arrondissement: bercy and gare de lyon
* place de la bastille (shared with the 4th and 11th arrondissements)
* opera bastille (opera national de paris)
* faubourg saint-antoine district
* promenade plantée (gardens and walkway built on the site of a defunct above-ground railway)
* viaduc des arts
* bois de vincennes (enormous park, often referred to as "paris's lungs"
* picpus cemetery
* palais omnisports de paris-bercy (stadium and concert hall)
* parc de bercy
* bercy village (a decidedly modern outdoor shopping "village", which was built using former wine warehouses)
* gare de lyon (one of paris' busiest train stations, and the site of acclaimed restaurant le train bleu)
13th arrondissement: gobelins, la butte aux cailles and the national library
* bibliothèque nationale (paris national library)
* butte aux cailles neighborhood
* chinatown (one of paris's largest, and major site for chinese new year celebrations in paris)
* manufacture des gobelins (tapestries manufacturing museum)
* gare d'austerlitz
14th arrondissement: montparnasse and denfert rochereau
* montparnasse tower and neighborhood
* montparnasse cemetery
* paris catacombs museum"
* fondation cartier pour l'art contemporain (cartier contemporary art foundation)
* lenin museum
* musée jean moulin (tribute to the french resistance hero)
* rue daguerre (pedestrian market street)
* parc montsouris
* cité universitaire (university housing campus with buildings in various styles of architecture)
15th arrondissement: porte de versailles and aquaboulevard
* porte de versailles exhibition center and the palais des sports
* musée bourdelle
* musée pasteur
* aquaboulevard (europe's largest waterpark)
16th arrondissement: passy and trocadero
* passy neighborhood
* passy cemetery
* palais de tokyo
* musée marmottan monet
* maison de balzac
* fondation le corbusier
* jardin d'acclimatation (amusement park for small children)
* parc des princes (stadium and concert venue)
* maison de radio france
* musée baccarat
* musée clemenceau
* musée galliera
17th arrondissement: batignolles and place de clichy
* batignolles neighborhood (former stomping grounds of artists including emile zola and edouard manet)
* parc monceau
* place de clichy
18th arrondissement: montmartre and pigalle
* montmartre neighborhood
* sacre-coeur basilica
* montmartre cemetery
* place des tertres
* le moulin de la galette (real windmill, and the subject of a painting of the same name by renoir)
* dali museum
* le moulin rouge and the pigalle red light district
* la chapelle: "little jaffna" (sri lankan district)
* barbes and la goutte d'or neighborhoods (african and north african districts)
19th arrondissement: buttes-chaumont and la villette
* buttes-chaumont park (a former limestone quarry that was transformed into a sprawling, romantic-style park)
* canal de l'ourq
* parc de la villette and la cité des sciences (science and industry museum)
20th arrondissement: belleville, père lachaise and bagnolet
* père-lachaise cemetery
* parc de belleville
* belleville neighborhood
* gambetta and bagnolet neighborhood (birthplace of edith piaf)
* la flèche d'or (famous nightclub)
è la prima volta che mi trovo a recensire globalmente l'opera di un essere umano. la cavia sarà diego collaveri, livornese, che mi ha inviato tutti i suoi lavori per visionarli.
non voglio essere offensivo, perchè è un simpaticone, ma oggettivo si.
prendo allora spunto da questo caso, per spiegare a chiare lettere come funziona la selezione per un festival come il nostro ( arrivano i corti ) ovvero quel che facciamo da quando arrivano i pacchi in poi.
e poi l'importante è che se ne parli, nel bene o nel male, purchè se ne parli.
se ricordate il concetto espresso da italo svevo (e poi portato agli estremi da warhol!) ecco, qualcuno si è accorto dell'esistenza di dido collaveri e delle sue opere, e questo posiziona in via teorica il collaveri come emerso per un indice dal magma indistinto della cinematografia.
noi di arrivano i corti scartiamo i lavori straccia-festival, quelle mega produzioni che hanno già un posto nell'olimpo di questa nicchia, favorendo invece lavori con le idee giuste, anche se realizzati con pochi mezzi. quindi dialoghi intensi, punti di vista inusuali o magistrali colpi di scena vincono certamente sugli effetti speciali e sull'alta definizione.
ma non sempre anche sulla regia. quindi non si può prescindere dalla fotografia, dai giusti tempi nel montaggio, dalla recitazione degli attori: sempre di video si tratta.
dido collaveri fa tutto da solo: scrive, gira e monta. l'impegno c'è, manca la tensione a creare un haiku, una piccola scatola in cui si incastra ed entra tutto. è un processo che va intensamente studiato prima di toccare qualsiasi marchingegno, che deriva proprio da quanto tempo si è speso a rimuginare sui concetti iniziali.
il pacco è in perfetto ordine, ha anche il sigillo antieffrazione! le copertine sono di buona fattura, le custodie tutte uguali, le descrizioni dei vari dvd dettagliate. nota: ipotizziamo che tutti i corti siano stati girati durante la fascia temporale utile per participare.
heart of steel:
storia magica medievaleggiante di un amore-odio che sfocia in una lotta con effetti speciali. non può passare alle selezioni per il festival non per la trama indefinita (che a volte può funzionare) nè per il soggetto magia (che è difficilissimo da interpretare in un corto!), ma per l'unione delle due cose.
in attesa di volare:
melenso, lunghenso (48 minuti!!?), manca il sesto senso!
è basato sulle discussioni di gruppi di amici. andavano rivisti, riassunti, concentrati i dialoghi fino a renderli significativi ed evocativi di una condizione esistenziale che è quella dei quasi-quarantenni di oggi, deducibilissima dal prodotto finito, ma piuttosto ovvia. non viene quindi accettato per via della eccessiva lunghezza, per lo stile documentaristico e per l'interesse che possono avere gli spettatori nel seguire le vicissitudini dei personaggi.
quello che resta:
una ragazza sola vive in un casolare abitato da uno spirito inquieto. lo libererà. nonostante la generale completezza del prodotto (anche se oltre alla scena eliminata, presente nei contenuti extra del dvd, andavano semplificate alcune altre porzioni del girato), non passa le selezioni per via del tema abusatissimo, visto peraltro da un punto di vista comune. faccio notare come l'anno di "the blair witch project" arrivarono più di cento lavori di quel genere, senza alcun "twist". tutti scartati a priori.
il dentista: il pezzo forte del collaveri!
breve musical dal gusto "rocky horror picture show". passa le selezioni per l'insolita maniera di trattare l'argomento dentista, di utilizzare il format del musical, per la recitazione degli attori, per i costumi e generalmente per la simpatia che traspare dal girato, chiaramente rappresentativa dello stile dell'autore.
troviamo poi due cortometraggi extra nei contenuti speciali:
volutamente kitsch? resta il fatto che la spada jedi...
uno spot pubblicitario che è una perla. e ve la propongo anche senza l'autorizzazione del proprietario.
provo grande stima per tutte le persone che svolgono un lavoro onesto e sincero. ma come in ogni ambito, è necessario studio ed esercizio. le idee buone ci sono, quindi "in nuce" possiamo chiamare con tranquillità il collaveri "regista".
fabio volo è forse l'amico che tutti vorremmo avere in compagnia.
se umberto eco mi chiedesse di venire a giocare a calcetto, andrei volentieri ma mi metterebbe in imbarazzo.
se però ci prova con la tua ragazza, le cose si fan diverse.
non mi piace dire: fabio volo è uno shpalman. mi piace dire fabio volo è uno shpalman perchè...
allora col mio solito andare pindareggiante, copincollo le opinioni di taaanta gente internettiana e ci creo un discorso.
Nel disorientamento dell’era del post la letteratura, che dovrebbe descrivere le idee, ha finito per corrompersi descrivendo non le idee ma le storie. quindi il tutto per il particolare, per la stranezza, dal Giovane Holden a Palahniuk & epigoni, passando per il cinema d’exploitation diventato mainstream al cinema italiano due stanze & cucina, fino alla musica, dai Radiohead a Battiato. Così la letteratura, che dovrebbe diffondere la verità e affermare il principio del dubbio come strumento per arrivare alla verità, attualmente propaga ciò che è falso per poterlo fare senza dubbi.
Del resto comporta minor sforzo affermare con certezza il falso rispetto alla verità con il beneficio del dubbio. ciò che si legge invece, diversamente dalla fisica che spiega la verità sul funzionamento del mondo, si propone di spiegare funzione / funzionamento dell’umanità: un racconto di fisica sociale che comprenda sia l’aspetto emozionale che quello scientifico, uno sguardo dall’universo nella sua vastità in caduta verticale fino al microcosmo della singola persona, un sistema completo che contiene al suo interno i meccanismi per analizzarne il suo stesso funzionamento fino a comprendere la sua infondatezza.
La necessità di un sistema di osservazione contemporanea, che unisca sociologia e letteratura, ma che anche sappia autoverificare la correttezza del suo funzionamento, si evidenzia analizzando la biografia di Auguste Comte, l’inventore stesso del termine fisica sociale e padre della sociologia. L’opera di Comte fu influenzata dal fatto che era basso e brutto, per cui cercò di vincere il suo sentimento di inferiorità edificando un sistema filosofico che avrebbe dovuto farlo accettare dalla società (leggi: dietro a qualsiasi cosa uno dica, c'è dietro qualcos'altro). In realtà fu accettato solo dall’unica donna che si innamorò di lui, Clotilde da Vaux, e bastò quell’unico breve amore per sconvolgerlo a tal punto da modificare il suo sistema tramutandolo in una sorta di religione protetta da una donna angelo, Clotilde appunto. La fisica sociale di Comte perde tutta la sua rilevanza per le deviazioni indotte dal fatto che uno sfigato perde la testa quando finalmente riesce a conquistare una donna, e ciò implicitamente conferma la necessità di una fisica sociale, considerando che alcuni tra gli eventi più importanti occorsi sulla Terra, dalla religione cattolica alla seconda guerra mondiale, sono stati causati dal desiderio di riscatto di sfigati.
Non che ci sia qualcosa di strano, perchè lo sforzo continuo teso al riscatto dalla propria condizione (lo streben!) è la condizione di tutti gli esseri umani.
Arriviamo a qualche passo di questo tal Fabio Bonetti.
"Ogni volta che ho visto una donna che mi piaceva, ho sempre cercato di conoscerla, ma soprattutto di farci l'amore. Amo le donne. Senza di loro me ne sarei già andato. Senza di loro non sarei mai più tornato."
"Spesso si vive come se fosse per sempre e ci si dimentica degli attimi."
"Il problema non è quanto aspetti, ma chi aspetti."
"È stata quella volta che scherzando mi ha detto che ero un erotomane romantico. Non so esattamente cosa volesse dire. Ho immaginato di essere uno che compra una rosa, ma poi cerca di infilarla nel sedere."
"La cosa importante è ciò che mi ha insegnato. Lei non era e non è il mio tesoro ma gli strumenti per trovarlo. Lei è il cartello che indica la strada."
"Tutto ciò che ho di lei è nella mia testa e nella mia anima. Per sempre. Lei è un respiro, un pensiero, un'emozione, è confusione e chiarezza... lei per me è sempre stata una casa con il tetto di vetro: posso osservare il cielo sentendomi al sicuro."
"Il biglietto aveva una parola cancellata. Ho continuato a guardare il foglio controluce per cercare di capire cosa avesse cancellato. Le cancellature per me diventano più interessanti di ciò che si legge. Perché non penso che siano stati errori di ortografia, ma un ripensamento su una confidenza troppo intima."
"Che begli occhiali da sole che hai, Carlo. - Oh grazie. Non ho mai capito perché alcune persone ti ringraziano per un complimento fatto a qualcosa che possiedono. Mi verrebbe da dirgli: "Mica li hai disegnati tu, gli occhiali! Svegliaaaaaa!".
"Forse uno dei miei problemi è che non chiedo niente a nessuno, ma ho bisogno di tutti."
"A volte, mentre passeggio, mi viene voglia di andare in una libreria. Entrare e trascorrere del tempo, prendendo ogni tanto un libro in mano, mi rilassa. Mi fa stare bene. Mi fa sentire sempre un po' più intelligente e interessante di come sono realmente."
"La vita non è ciò che ci accade, ma ciò che facciamo con ciò che ci accade..."
"Io a volte scopro come la penso su di un argomento quando ne parlo. È parlandone che scopro la mia opinione, insieme a quelli che mi ascoltano."
"Ti ricorderò come il fidanzato che mi ha fatto ascoltare la musica migliore."
"Non c'è sempre una risposta a tutto. Magari sì, magari no. Magari tu non sei fatto per quel tipo di rapporto. Punto. Ci sono persone che non riescono a costruirsi un'armatura e altre che non riescono più a liberarsene. Io volevo riuscire a vivere questa nuova fase, fatta di fragilità, emozioni, dolore e gioia."
"Sentivo che mi leggeva dentro, e io avrei voluto essere più uomo con lei. Avrei voluto essere quell'abbraccio in cui desiderava perdersi. Protetta e libera di lasciarsi andare, perché tanto c'ero io a prendermi cura di lei, a difenderla dal freddo e dal male."
"Amo le labbra: le amo perche sono costrette a non toccarsi se vogliono dire "Ti odio" e obbligate a unirsi se vogliono dire "Ti amo"."
"A volte i minuti non sono minuti, sono reincarnazioni di vite. Nell'attesa, sono già rinato mille volte. Ho percorso tutta la catena alimentare. Sono stato zanzara, armadillo, elefante…"
"Chi non si ama può darsi a chiunque."
"Ci sono bellissime storie d'amore nel fondo delle borse, tra i pacchetti di sigarette e le chiavi; per questo a volte si fa fatica a trovarle, semplicemente perché tentano di nascondersi per poter rimanere lì."
"Comunque la felicità non è che sia fare sempre quello che si vuole, semmai è volere sempre quello che si fa…"
"Dava l'idea di essere una donna che dona tutto, ma non regala niente."
"Era come se andando via in realtà avessi preso la rincorsa per tornare più vicino."
"Erano state le lacrime ad aprirmi la porta della sua vera intimità."
"Fai conto di essere una maratoneta. Stai correndo con i tuoi amici e le tue amiche. A un certo punto capisci di avere una buona gamba, un bel passo, di poter andare più veloce, e allora decidi di seguire questa tua forza. Di convertirti al tuo talento. Dopo un po' che corri, ti accorgi di aver staccato il gruppo. Ti giri e ti scopri sola. Loro sono indietro, tutti insieme che ridono, e tu sei sola con te stessa. Siccome non riesci a reggere questa solitudine, rallenti finché il gruppo ti raggiunge e, negando il tuo talento, fingi di essere come loro. Rimani nel gruppo. Ma tu non sei così, non sei come loro. Infatti anche lì in mezzo ti senti comunque sola."
"Fai vedere al tuo sogno che veramente ci tieni a incontrarlo, senza pretendere che lui faccia tutta la strada da solo per arrivare fino a te, poi le cose accadono. I sogni hanno bisogno di sapere che siamo coraggiosi."
"Ho letto da qualche parte che il vero motivo per cui si sono estinti i dinosauri è perché nessuno li accarezzava. Bisogna sperare che l'uomo non faccia lo stesso stupido errore con le donne."
"Il cammino si fa da soli: in 2 è una scampagnata."
"In qualsiasi momento della vita si può prendere in mano le redini e cambiare il proprio destino."
"L'amore per sé è il ponte necessario per arrivare all'altro."
"La cosa più fastidiosa quando mandi un messaggio a una persona a cui tieni è che dal momento dell'invio parte il conto dei minuti. Rispondi, rispondi, rispondi. Non ha risposto. Magari ha il telefono spento. Che faccio chiamo, faccio uno squillo per vedere se è acceso? E se poi è acceso? Messaggio più chiamata: divento pesante. Chiamo con anonimo. Solo che se faccio uno squillo e poi metto giù capisce che sono io che controllo. Lo capisce? Sì, lo capisce. A volte i minuti non sono solo minuti, sono reincarnazioni di vite."
"La prima cosa che due persone si offrono stando insieme dovrebbe essere un sentimento d'amore verso se stessi. Se non ti ami tu, perché dovrei amarti io?"
"La prima volta che ci siamo frequentati non eravamo in grado di amarci. Eravamo come due persone che hanno tra le mani lo strumento che amano, ma non lo sanno suonare. Poi abbiamo imparato."
"Le cose non si vedono per ciò che sono ma per ciò che sei!"
"L'odio appartiene ad attimi di impotenza."
"Mentre la sfioravo, sentivo sulla punta delle dita una forza misteriosa che mi attraeva verso di lei. Non avevo nulla, nemmeno i mobili, ma mi sentivo pieno. Arredato dentro!"
"Non ci si può far niente, le persone che amano si finisce sempre per amarle. È una legge della natura."
"Ognuno di noi è fatto da tanti se stesso e non solamente da uno. Diciamo che siamo come un'assemblea condominiale composta da tante persone diverse. C'è quello più tollerante, c'è quello più permaloso, quello che si incazza subito, quello che parla poco e quello che non sta mai zitto."
"Pensare a se stessi non è egoismo. Egoismo semmai è occuparsi solo di se stessi."
"Voglio lasciarmi andare, voglio di più per me voglio buttarmi per cadere verso l'alto."
"Avevo capito che rinunciare a se stessi, non amarsi è come sbagliare a chiudere il primo bottone della camicia. Tutti gli altri poi sono sbagliati di conseguenza. Amarsi è l'unica certezza per riuscire ad amare davvero gli altri."
"Pare che i notai guadagnino molto perché hanno dovuto studiare parecchio. Sembra che quel parecchio sia a spese nostre. Forse pensano che, quando loro stavano studiando, noi eravamo in giro a non fare un cazzo."
"Che ne so?! Io non so nemmeno se esiste la felicità. Intendo dire come condizione perpetua. Credo che la felicità siano picchi che durano attimi, secondi."
"Flavia era come quei tulipani che compro per casa mia. Ho imparato a prenderli chiusi, così mi durano di più. Sono belli ugualmente, ma mi piacciono anche perché so come saranno quando si apriranno. Compro quella bellezza che ancora non si vede, ma che comunque si percepisce. Si conosce."
"Il mio lavoro mi rendeva uguale a tutti gli altri. Non mi permetteva di esprimermi. Ero sostituibile come un bullone di una macchina, e questo condizionava tutti i miei rapporti. Perché poi la sera, quando tornavo a casa, avevo voglia di stare con una persona che mi avesse scelto. Volevo essere SCEL-TO! Volevo una persona che voleva me. Una persona per la quale io non potevo essere sostituito da un giorno con l'altro. Una persona che mi facesse sentire speciale. Diverso da tutti. Un individuo. Una persona. Un principe azzurro."
"Mi sono seduto nella sala d'attesa. C'era una ragazza che sfogliava senza interesse una rivista. Mi piace stare in una stanza con una donna. Anche quando prendo il treno, se entro in uno scompartimento e ci trovo una donna sono più contento. E se non c'è continuo a cercare finché la trovo. Non è che poi le rivolgo la parola, o ci parlo, o ci provo per forza, anzi, ma mi piace che sia lì. Mi piace la loro compagnia anche se silenzio-sa e sconosciuta. Le donne sono belle da respirare."
"Nell'arco della vita puoi incontrare un sacco di persone e di qualcuna diventare veramente amico. Ma chi ha passato con te il periodo dell'adolescenza conserva un posto speciale. Forse più ancora dei compagni dell'infanzia."
"Prima di uscire ho apparecchiato la sua colazione. Sul sacchetto dei biscotti ho attaccato un post-it con la mia dichiarazione d'amore. Tu sei tutto ciò che prima non sono mai riuscito a dire, mai riuscito a vedere, fare, capire. Finalmente sei qui... ho aspettato tanto. Ci vediamo stasera."
"Ti ricordi quando mi hai chiesto se avevo le pastiglie per la felicità? La pastiglia è la vita. Vivi, buttati, apriti, ascoltati. Le tue paure, le tue ansie sono dovute al fatto che tu esisti ma non vivi. Sei castrato nei sentimenti. Sei bloccato. Ti ricordi quella frase di Oscar Wilde? Diceva che vivere è la cosa più rara al mondo. La maggior parte della gente esiste, e nulla più."
"Ero talmente felice che per esserlo di più avrei dovuto essere due persone."
"A Milano camminano più veloci che a Roma, ma non è ancora niente in confronto a Londra o New York. Diventeremo come loro?"
"C'è chi cerca l'altra metà della mela, io sto cercando ancora la mia mezza. Sono uno spicchio di me stesso."
"Si parla sempre delle donne che fingono l'orgasmo. Anch'io a volte lo faccio. Io sono un uomo che finge l'orgasmo: cioè non è che fingo di venire, fingo il contrario."
"Molti credono che la fantasia serva solo per sfuggire alla realtà, mentre quasi sempre serve per capirla e interpretarla meglio."
"Rispetto alla fantasia la realtà cosa può fare? È un po' come quando vai a vedere il film del tuo libro preferito: una delusione."
"Paura d'amare: credo sia paura restare soli per paura di rimanere soli. Innamorarsi è una droga, amare è una medicina."
ora, nel festival delle banalità, delle ovvietà, della generalizzazione, delle frasi ad effetto, delle robe che vendono, ragioniamo sui personaggi che incarnano questo modo di fare.
fabio volo e jovanotti affondano le loro radici nella rivoluzione sessuale. l'emancipazione della donna nella cattolicissima italia ha portato a sbarellare dall'altro lato, come capita sempre quando qualche minoranza è tenuta sotto il tappo troppo a lungo, e ingiustamente.
fabio volo & jovanotti nascono come due belle facce (e sono quindi due prodotti). a seguire, gli sono stati dati dei contenuti, come fossero vestiti: si pensi a cos'erano fabio volo "iena" e jovanotti "gimme five" agli inizi. per esempio sgarbi o lucio dalla sono esattamente oggi quello che erano quando si sono affermati.
il target di marketing di bonetti e cherubini è titillare l'ego femminile, trasformare il rapporto di naturale scambio tra uomo e donna in un rapporto unilaterale in cui la donna solo prende e pretende da un uomo che è sempre gentile ed è pure un gran figo, e le caga sebbene loro siano culonacce.
ascoltare le telefonate di volo in trasmissione è illuminante: a lui piacciono tutte, come nelle canzoni di jovanotti, in cui lei è una donna che non esiste, alla quale lui dona il suo amore a prescindere, non dice mai "ti amo perchè...".
per essere amate nelle canzoni di jovanotti è quindi sufficiente esistere, cosa che non è affatto vera nella realtà.
l'operazione letteraria di fabio volo è pertanto una declinazione di questi poveri concetti, un paulo coelho povero fatto di buonismo e (probabilmente) un denso apporto di studi di marketing sulle fasce d'età post adolescenziali.
e poi: li avrà scritti lui? comunque sia, da un libro ci si aspetterebbe di più.
"va bene, volo scrive questi libri, se non ti piacciono non li comprare, no?"
NO. sbagliato. perchè questa è arte degenere, e corrompe la società. saviano che scrive gomorra può piacere o non piacere, però alza il livello medio, può essere che magari nei giovani porti ad atteggiamenti meno omertosi, è già un grande risultato.
Invece fabio volo & jovanotti sobillano nelle donne un atteggiamento per cui a loro è tutto dovuto, quindi ok essere culone, ok avere 40 anni, ok pretendere di comportarsi ancora come delle bambine, ok fare le viziate e credere che sia un diritto far impiccare i propri partners con azioni eclatanti per rimediare ai proprio presunti schiribizzi.
allora mentre la generazione dei 20/30enni annega tra precariato e scarsa natalità, fidanzati a casa dei genitori eccetera, jovanotti e fabio volo invece di condannare la situazione se ne fanno cantori, drogano la realtà e la fanno apparire felice.
quindi, fabio volo è uno shpalman, ovvero una maschera di merda.
nota conclusiva: ringrazio una imprecisata ragazza per aver argomentato, spinta da non so quale motivo, questa posizione praticamente per intero. grazie.
1) A slaveowner decides to place an advertisement for the return of a lost slave.
2) Apple decides to develop the first salable PC.
3) Henry Ford decides to start his own company.
4) Sears, Roebuck decides to go into retail sales.
5) Julius Reuter decides to use carrier pigeons to deliver information.
6) Swiss watch manufacturers decide to collaborate.
7) Bill Gates decides to license MS-DOS to IBM.
8) Reuben Mattus decides to market ice cream to supermarkets.
9) Thomas Watson decides to change his company's name to IBM.
10) Walt Disney decides to name his cartoon character Mickey.
11) Marvin Bower decides to keep the McKinsey name for his company.
12) Richard Sears decides to sell products through a catalog.
13) Coca-Cola decides to hold a competition for the design of its new bottle.
14) Konosuke Matsushita decides to institute product demonstrations.
15) Mattel decides to add the Ken doll to its line of Barbie toys.
16) Alfred P. Sloan of GM decides to segment the market for car models.
17) The Grateful Dead decide to allow fans to tape their concerts.
18) Philip Morris decides to reposition Marlboro as a man's cigarette.
19) Henry Heinz decides his company needs a slogan.
20) William Hoover decides to distribute his sweepers through a retail network.
21) Harley-Davidson executives decide to establish the Harley Owners Group.
22) Coca-Cola decides to sell to members of the armed forces for a nickel a bottle.
23) Henry Luce decides to rank companies as the Fortune 500.
24) Akito Morita decides to develop the Walkman.
25) Hartford doctors decide to install telephones in their offices.
26) Honda decides to market small motorbikes in the United States.
27) Aaron Feuerstein decides to keep Malden Mills open after a major fire in its factory.
28) Levi-Strauss decides to extend credit to wholesalers after an earthquake and fire, and later decides to keep employees working during the Great Depression.
29) Baron de Coubertin decides to convene a conference to establish the Olympic Games.
30) American Express decides to continue cashing traveler's checks during the Great Depression.
31) Warren Buffett decides to invest in Berkshire Hathaway.
32) Coca-Cola decides to return to its original recipe.
33) Johnson & Johnson decides to pull Tylenol from store shelves.
34) Percy Barnevick decides to merge Asea and Brown Boveri.
35) The Incas decide to build a network of roads and administrative centers.
36) The ITT board decides to appoint Harold Geneen its CEO.
37) Pierre Du Pont of GM decides to adopt Alfred P. Sloan's reorganization plan for GM.
38) St. Bernard decides to reorganize the Cistercian monasteries.
39) Michael Dell decides to sell PCs directly to consumers and built to order.
40) Procter & Gamble decides to introduce brand management.
41) Jeff Bezos decides to sell books over the Internet.
42) Henry Dunant decides to go see Napoleon III.
43) Paul Garrett of GM decides to invite Peter Drucker to study the company.
44) Elvis Presley decides to join the army.
45) John Larson decides to ask Tom Peters to make a presentation to a client.
46) Napoleon decides to promote people based on merit.
47) Jack Welch of GE decides to institute Work-Out.
48) Thomas Watson Jr. decides to commit IBM to developing a new line of computers.
49) Wal-Mart decides to move into the grocery business.
50) Edward L. Bernays decides to stage a march to promote smoking for women.
51) Harvard Business School decides to launch the Harvard Business Review and to establish the HBS Fund.
52) Lou Gerstner decides not to split IBM.
53) Rupert Murdoch decides to build a printing plant that doesn't require union labor.
54) Luciano Benetton decides to invest in an advanced clothing factory.
55) Toyota decides to implement W. Edwards Deming's quality techniques.
56) Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines decides to cut the extras.
57) Leaders of Miletus in Ancient Greece decide to specialize in one industry.
58) Belgian business leaders decide to apply the principles of action learning.
59) Cities in Northern Germany decide to form an association to promote their commercial interests.
60) Edwin Land decides to take a walk and comes up with the idea for the Polaroid camera.
61) Ray Kroc decides to buy the rights to McDonald's restaurants and franchise them.
62) The ancient Chinese decide to institute a system of currency.
63) William Wrigley decides to offer free packs of chewing gum with his cans of baking powder.
64) Kemmons Wilson decides to build his own motel.
65) Gillette decides to position itself at the high-quality, premium-price end of the market.
66) Arthur Fry of 3M decides what Post-Its can be used for.
67) Henry Ford decides to pay his workers $5 a day.
68) 3M decides to allow its researchers to spend 15 percent of their time working on their own projects.
69) Hewlett-Packard decides to hire some of the excess technical talent after World War II.
70) Emperor Hadrian decides to provide all miners in the Roman Empire with bath houses.
71) GE decides to establish a center for executive development.
72) Ricardo Semler of Semco decides to fire 60 percent of his company's top management.
73) Jan Carlzon of SAS decides to send 35,000 managers to customer service training courses.
74) Reg Jones of GE decides to implement a management succession process.
75) President McKinley decides to allow Elihu Root to restructure the U.S. armed services.
Search Engines Strategies
The idea here is not to trick the search engines, but to leave them abundant clues as to what your webpage is about.
1. Write a Page Title. Write a descriptive title for each page of 5 to 8 words. Remove as many "filler" words from the title, such as "the," "and," etc. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page is found. Entice searchers to click on the title by making it a bit provocative. Place this at the top of the webpage between the
tags, in this format: Web Marketing Checklist - 32 Ways to Promote Your Website
. It also shows on the blue bar at the top of your web browser.
Plan to use some descriptive keywords along with your business name on your home page. If you specialize in silver bullets and that's what people will be searching for, don't just use your company name "Acme Ammunition, Inc." use "Silver and Platinum Bullets - Acme Ammunition, Inc." The words people are most likely to search on should appear first in the title (called "keyword prominence"). Remember, this title is nearly your entire identity on the search engines. The more people see that interests them in the blue hyperlinked words on the search engine, the more likely they are to click on the link.
2. Write a Description and Keyword META Tag. The description should be a sentence or two describing the content of the webpage, using the main keywords and keyphrases on this page. If you include keywords that aren't used on the webpage, you could hurt yourself. Place the Description META Tag at the top of the webpage, between the
tags, in this format:
. Some search engines include this description below your hyperlinked title.
Your maximum number of characters should be about 255; just be aware that only the first 60 or so are visible on Google, though more may be indexed.
When I prepare a webpage, I write the article first, then write a description of the content in that article in a sentence or two, using each of the important keywords and keyphrases included in the article. This goes into the description META tag. Then for the keywords META tag, I strip out the common words, leaving just the meaty words and phrases. The keywords META tag is no longer used for ranking by Google, but it is currently used by Yahoo, so I'm leaving it in. Who knows when more search engines will consider it important again? Every webpage in your site should have a title, and META description tag.
3. Include Your Keywords in Header Tags H1, H2, H3. Search engines consider words that appear in the page headline and sub heads to be important to the page, so make sure your desired keywords and phrases appear in one or two header tags. Don't expect the search engine to parse your Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to figure out which are the headlines - it won't. Instead, use keywords in the H1, H2, and H3 tags to provide clues to the search engine. (Note: Some designers no longer use the H1, H2 tags. That's a mistake. Make sure your designer defines these tags in the CSS rather than creating headline tags with other names.)
4. Make Sure Your Keywords Are in the First Paragraph of Your Body Text. Search engines expect that your first paragraph will contain the important keywords for the document - where most people write an introduction to the content of the page. You don't want to just artificially stuff keywords here, however. More is not better. Google might expect a keyword density in the entire body text area of maybe 1.5% to 2% for a word that should rank high, so don't overdo it. Other places you might consider including keywords would be in ALT tags and perhaps COMMENT tags, though few search engines give these much if any weight.
5. Use Keywords in Hyperlinks. Search engines are looking for clues to the focus of your page. When they see words hyperlinked in your body text, they consider these potentially important, so hyperlink your important keywords and keyphrases. To emphasize it even more, the webpage you are linking to could have a page name with the keyword or keyphrase another clue for the search engine.
7. Develop Several Pages Focused on Particular Keywords. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists no longer recommend using external doorway or gateway pages, since nearly duplicate webpages might get you penalized. Rather, develop several webpages on your site, each of which is focused on a different keyword or keyphrase. For example, instead of listing all your services on a single webpage, try developing a separate webpage for each. These pages will rank higher for their keywords since they contain targeted rather than general content. You can't fully optimize all the webpages in your site, but these focused-content webpages you'll want to spend lots of time tweaking to improve their rank.
8. Submit Your Webpage URL to Search Engines. Next, submit your homepage URL to the important Web search engines that robotically index the Web. Look for a link on the search engine for "Add Your URL." In the US, the most used search engines are: Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL Search, and Ask.com. Some of these feed search content to the other main search engines and portal sites. For Europe and other areas you'll want to submit to regional search engines. It's a waste of money to pay someone to submit your site to hundreds of search engines. Avoid registering with FFA (Free For All pages) and other link farms. They don't work well, bring you lots of spam e-mails, and could cause you to be penalized by the search engines. We'll talk about submitting to directories under "Linking Strategies" below. If your page is already indexed by a search engine, don't re-submit it unless you've made significant changes; the search engine spider will come back and revisit it soon anyway.
9. Fine-tune with Search Engine Optimization. Now fine-tune your focused-content pages (described in point 7), and perhaps your home page, by making minor adjustments to help them rank high.
10. Promote Your Local Business on the Internet. These days many people search for local businesses on the Internet. To make sure they find you include on every page of your website the street address, zip code, phone number, and the five or 10 other local community place names your business serves. If you can, include place names in the title tag, too. When you seek links to your site (see below), a local business should get links from local businesses with place names in the communities you serve and complementary businesses in your industry nationwide.
Links to your site from other sites bring additional traffic. But since Google and other major search engines consider the number of incoming links to your website ("link popularity") as an important factor in ranking, more links will help you rank higher in the search engines, too. Google has introduced a 10-point scale called PageRank (10 is the highest rank) to indicate the quantity and quality of incoming links. All links, however, are not created equal. Links from popular information hubs will help your site rank higher than those from low traffic sites.
11. Submit Your Site to Key Directories, since a link from a directory will help your ranking - and get you traffic. Be sure to list your site in the free Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.com), overseen by overworked volunteer human editors. This hierarchical directory provides content feeds to all the major search engines. Plus it provides a link to your site from an information hub that Google deems important. But don't be impatient and resubmit or you'll go to the end of the queue.
Yahoo! Directory is another important directory to be listed in, though their search results recently haven't been featuring their own directory as prominently. Real humans will read (and too often, pare down) your 200-character sentence, so be very careful and follow their instructions (http://docs.yahoo.com/info/suggest/). Hint: Use somewhat less than the maximum number of characters allowable, so you don't have wordy text that will tempt the Yahoo! editor to begin chopping. Business sites require a $299 annual recurring fee for Yahoo! Express to have your site considered for inclusion within seven business days (http://docs.yahoo.com/info/suggest/busexpress.html). Other directories to consider might be About.com and Business.com.
12. Submit Your Site to Industry Sites and Specialized Directories. You may find some directories focused on particular industries, such as education or finance. You probably belong to various trade associations that feature member sites. Ask for a link. Even if you have to pay something for a link, it may help boost your PageRank. Beware of directories that solicit you for "upgraded listings." Unless a directory is widely used in your field, your premium ad won't help - but the link itself will help boost your PageRank and hence your search engine ranking. Marginal directories come and go very quickly, making it hard to keep up. Don't try to be exhaustive here.
13. Request Reciprocal Links. Find complementary websites and request a reciprocal link to your site (especially to your free service, if you offer one). Develop an out-of-the way page where you put links to other sites - so you don't send people out the back door as fast as you bring them in the front door. Your best results will be from sites that get a similar amount of traffic to your site. High-traffic site webmasters are too busy to answer your requests for a link and don't have anything to gain. Look for smaller sites that may have linking pages.
Check out Ken Evoy's free SiteSell Value Exchange. It (1) registers your site as one that is willing to exchange links with other sites that have a similar theme/topic content and (2) searches for sites with similar topical content (http://sales.sitesell.com/value-exchange/). Additionally, two automated link building software programs stand out - Zeus and Arelis. These search for complementary sites, help you maintain a link directory, and manage reciprocal links. However, use these programs to identify the complementary sites, not to send impersonal automated e-mail spam to site owners. When you locate sites, send a personal e-mail to the administrative contact found in the Whois Directory (www.networksolutions.com/whois/). If e-mail doesn't get a response, try a phone call. One warning: Be sure to only link to complementary sites, no matter how often you are bombarded with requests to exchange links with a mortgage site that has nothing to do with yours. One way Google determines what your site is about is who you link to and who links to you. It's not just links, but quality links you seek.
14. Write Articles for Others to Use in their Newsletters. You can dramatically increase your visibility when you write articles in your area of expertise and distribute them to editors as free content for their e-mail newsletters or their websites. Just ask that a link to your website and a one-line description of what you offer be included with the article. This is an effective "viral" approach that can produce hundreds of links to your site over time.
15. Begin a Business Blog. Want links to your site? Begin a business blog on your website, hosted on your own domain. If you offer excellent content and regular industry comment, people are likely to link to it, increasing your site's PageRank. If you have a blog on a third-party blog site, occasionally find reasons to talk about and link to your own domain.
16. Issue News Releases. Find newsworthy events and send news releases to print and Web periodicals in your industry. The links to your site in online news databases may remain for years and have some clout with link popularity. However, opening or redesigning a website is seldom newsworthy these days. Placing your website URL in online copies of your press release may increase link popularity some. Issuing press releases is a traditional promotional strategy, but there are other traditional approaches that can help you as well.
Just because "old media" strategies aren't on the Internet doesn't mean they aren't effective. A mixed media approach can be very effective.
17. Include Your URL on Stationery, Cards, and Literature. This is a no-brainer that is sometimes overlooked. Make sure that all reprints of cards, stationery, brochures, and literature contain your company's URL. And see that your printer gets the URL syntax correct. In print, I recommend leaving off the http:// part and including only the www.domain.com portion.
18. Promote using traditional media. Don't discontinue print advertising that you've found effective. But be sure to include your URL in any display or classified ads you purchase in trade journals, newspapers, yellow pages, etc. View your website as an information adjunct to the ad. Use a two-step approach: (1) capture readers' attention with the ad, (2) then refer them to a URL where they can obtain more information and perhaps place an order. Look carefully at small display or classified ads in the back of narrowly-targeted magazines or trade periodicals. Sometimes these ads are more targeted, more effective, and less expensive than online advertising. Consider other traditional media to drive people to your site, such as direct mail, classifieds, post cards, etc. TV can be used to promote websites, especially in a local market.
19. Develop a Free Service. It's boring to invite people, "Come to our site and learn about our business." It's quite another to say "Use the free kitchen remodeling calculator available exclusively on our site." Make no mistake, it's expensive in time and energy to develop free resources, but it is very rewarding in increased traffic to your site. Make sure that your free service is closely related to what you are selling so the visitors you attract will be good prospects for your business. Give visitors multiple opportunities and links to cross over to the sales part of your site.
Don't neglect e-mail as an important way to bring people to your website. Just don't spam. That is, don't send bulk unsolicited e-mails without permission to people with whom you have no relationship.
20. Install a "Signature" in your E-Mail Program to help potential customers get in touch with you. Most e-mail programs allow you to designate a "signature" to appear at the end of each message you send. Limit it to 6 to 8 lines: Company name, address, phone number, URL, e-mail address, and a one-phrase description of your unique business offering. Look for examples on e-mail messages sent to you.
21. Publish an E-Mail Newsletter. While it's a big commitment in time, publishing a monthly e-mail newsletter ("ezine") is one of the very best ways to keep in touch with your prospects, generate trust, develop brand awareness, and build future business. It also helps you collect e-mail addresses from those who visit your site but aren't yet ready to make a purchase. Ask for an e-mail address and first name so you can personalize the newsletter.
If you're just getting started you can use a free advertising-supported newsletter from Yahoo! Groups (www.yahoogroups.com).
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22. Send Offers to Your Visitors and Customers. Your own list of customers and site visitors who have given you permission to contact them will be your most productive list. Send offers, coupon specials, product updates, etc. Personalizing the subject line and the message may increase the results.
23. Rent targeted e-mail lists. We abhor "spam," bulk untargeted, unsolicited e-mail, and you'll pay a very stiff price in a ruined reputation and cancelled services if you yield to temptation here. But the direct marketing industry has developed targeted e-mail lists you can rent - lists consisting of people who have agreed to receive commercial e-mail messages. These lists cost $40 to $400 per thousand or 4¢ to 40¢ per name. Do a smaller test first to determine the quality of the list. Your best bet is to find an e-mail list broker to help you with this project - you'll save money and get experienced help for no additional cost.
24. Promote Your Site in Online Forums and Blogs. The Internet offers thousands of very targeted e-mail based discussion lists, online forums, blogs, and Usenet news groups made up of people with very specialized interests. Use Google Groups to find appropriate sources (groups.google.com). Don't bother with news groups consisting of pure "spam." Instead, find groups where a serious dialog is taking place. Don't use aggressive marketing and overtly plug your product or service. Rather, add to the discussion in a helpful way and let the "signature" at the end of your e-mail message do your marketing for you. People will gradually get to know and trust you, visit your site, and do business with you.
25. Announce a Contest. People like getting something free. If you publicize a contest or drawing available on your site, you'll generate more traffic than normal. Make sure your sweepstakes rules are legal in all states and countries you are targeting. Prizes should be designed to attract individuals who fit a demographic profile describing your best customers.
26. Ask Visitors to Bookmark Your Site. It seems so simple, but make sure you ask visitors to bookmark your site or save it in their Favorites list.
27. Exchange Ads with Complementary Businesses. Banner exchange programs don't work well these days. But consider exchanging e-mail newsletter ads with complementary businesses to reach new audiences. Just be sure that your partners are careful where they get their mailing list or you could be in trouble with the CAN-SPAM Act.
28. Devise Viral Marketing Promotion Techniques. So-called viral marketing uses the communication networks (and preferably the resources) of your site visitors or customers to spread the word about your site exponentially. Word-of-mouth, PR, creating "buzz" and network marketing are offline models. #14 above, "Write Articles for Others to Use in their Newsletters," is a viral approach. The classic example is the free e-mail service, hotmail.com, that includes a tagline about their service at the end of every message sent out, so friends tell friends, who tell friends.
Paid Advertising Strategies
None of the approaches described above is "free," since each takes time and energy. But if you want to grow your business more rapidly, there comes a point when you need to pay for increased traffic. Advertising is sold in one of three ways: (1) traditional CPM (cost per thousand views), (2) pay per click (PPC), and (3) pay per action, otherwise known as an affiliate program or lead generation program. Do some small tests first to determine response. Then calculate your return on investment (ROI) before spending large amounts. Here are some methods:
29. Buy a Text Ad in an E-Mail Newsletter. Some of the best buys are small text ads in e-mail newsletters targeted at audiences likely to be interested in your products or services. Many small publishers aren't sophisticated about advertising and offer attractive rates.Banner ads get such a low click-through rate (0.2%) these days that I don't recommend paying much for them. Banner ads typically cost about 50¢ to $1 per thousand page views.
30. Begin an Affiliate Program. Essentially, a retailer's affiliate program pays a commission to other sites whose links to the retailer result in an actual sale. The goal is to build a network of affiliates who have a financial stake in promoting your site. If you're a merchant you, need to (1) determine the commission you are willing to pay (consider it your advertising cost), (2) select a company to set up the technical details of your program, and (3) promote your program to get the right kind of affiliates who will link to your site. Consider affiliate management software.
31. Purchase Pay Per Click (PPC) ads with Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture) and Google AdWords. The top ads appear as featured links to the right of "natural" search engine results for your keywords. Your ranking is determined by how much you've bid for a particular search word compared to other businesses. This can be a cost-effective way to get targeted traffic, since you only pay when someone actually clicks on the link. Pay Per Click advertising can be quite cost-effective when you learn how to use it. Yahoo Search Marketing even offers some free credit to get you started. You can learn about software to administer such programs in Report on PPC Bid Management Software (www.wilsonweb.com/ebooks/bidmgt.htm).
32. List Your Products with Shopping Comparison Bots and Auction Sites. Shopping bots compare your products and prices to others. Google's Froogle (www.froogle.com) is free, so be sure to list your products there. A Froogle listing also helps your product page's ranking on Google. Some work on a PPC basis: mySimon (www.mysimon.com), BizRate (www.bizrate.com), PriceGrabber (www.pricegrabber.com), and Shopping.com (www.shopping.com). Others expect a commission on the sale and sometimes a listing fee, especially sales systems that host the merchant. These include eBay (www.ebay.com), Yahoo! Shopping Auctions (http://auctions.shopping.yahoo.com), Amazon zShops, Marketplace, and Auctions (http://zshops.amazon.com), and Yahoo! Shopping (http://shopping.yahoo.com). You pay to acquire first-time customers, but hopefully you can sell to them a second, third, and fourth time, too.
We certainly haven't exhausted ways to promote your site, but these will get you started. To effectively market your site, you need to spend some time adapting these strategies to your own market and capacity.
A brand name is a name (a Proper Noun in fact) in the mind of the consumer that conveys a single proposition about a particular product or service. The power in a brand name lies in its ability to positively influence purchasing behavior.
In an increasingly cluttered information society, a powerful brand image can act as a guidepost for the consumer in making a purchase decision.
“What is accelerating this trend is the decline of selling. As a profession and as a function, selling is slowly sinking like the Titanic. Today, most products and services are bought, not sold. And branding greatly facilitates this process. Branding “pre-sells” the product or service to the user. Branding is simply an efficient way to sell things.”
A successful branding program, therefore, should differentiate your product or service from all the similar products or services out there.
“A successful branding program is based on the concept of singularity. It creates in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no product on the market quite like your product.
Can a successful brand appeal to everybody? No. The same concept of singularity makes certain that no one brand can possibly have a universal appeal.”
A major problem for companies is the temptation to extend a successful brand into other, sometimes only peripherally related, areas. (Two actual examples mentioned in the book are Harley-Davidson wine coolers and Heinz all-purpose cleaning vinegar.) Such brand extensions only serve to confuse the consumer and dilute the single message strength of the core brand.
Twenty-two ‘laws’ of branding are:
1. The law of expansion - The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope: “Marketers constantly run branding programs that are in conflict with how people want to perceive their brands. Customers want brands that are narrow in scope and are distinguishable by a single word, the shorter the better.”
2. The law of contraction - A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus
3. The law of publicity - The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising - Ries and Ries maintain that advertising is best used to maintain a brand, but that it is very difficult and expensive to launch a new brand through advertising alone - they best way, they say, is to be first in a new product or service category, and reap the attendant publicity
4. The law of advertising - Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy
5. The law of the word - A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer - “If you want to build a brand, you must focus your branding efforts on owning a word in the prospect’s mind. A word that nobody else owns.” Examples they give include: Mercedes = prestige; Volvo = safety; Kleenex = tissue; Xerox = copier; FedEx = overnight.
6. The law of credentials - The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity and the best claim to authenticity is being the leading product or service in your category, because consumers assume that if it is a leading seller, it must be good: “Never forget leadership. No matter how small the market, don’t get duped into simply selling the benefits of the category. There are also the long-term benefits of leadership. Because once you get on top, it's hard to lose your spot. A widely publicized study of twenty-five leading brands in twenty-five different product categories in the year 1923 showed that twenty of the same twenty-five brands are still the leaders in their categories today. In seventy-five years, only five brands lost their leadership.”
7. The law of quality - Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone. In fact, as the authors point out, most people have no idea as to the “real” quality of a product or service. Is a Rolex really better at keeping time than a Timex? How do you know?
8. The law of the category - A leading brand should promote the product or service category, not the brand - This may seen counter-intuitive, but the authors argue here that the best way for the brand leader to build sales is to promote the category, not their specific brand. This is a more effective way to build up overall market awareness and interest, and the brand leader will naturally benefit to a greater degree than other competitors, by virtue of their larger market share. (And when the overall size of the market is built up, then the leader is in a good position to increase market share still further.)
9. The law of the name - In the long run, a brand is nothing more than a name
10. The law of extensions - The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything
11. The law of fellowship - In order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands - see rule #8
12. The law of the generic - One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name - Generic names (i.e. names that describe the product or service category, such as “Wine Coolerz”), do not strongly position the product or service within the category, and are thus liable to confuse potential customers.
13. The law of the company - Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference. "The issue of how to use a company name is at the same time both simple and complicated. Simple, because the laws are so clear-cut. Complicated, because most companies do not follow the simple laws of branding and end up with a system that defies logic and results in endless brand versus company debates. Brand names should almost
always take precedence over company names. Consumers buy brands, they don’t buy companies. So when a company name is used alone as a brand name (GE, Coca Cola, IBM, Xerox, Intel), customers see these names as brands.”
14. The law of subbrands - What branding builds, subbranding (i.e. brand extensions) can destroy. The name ‘Chevrolet’ used to stand for something. Now, what is it? A large, small, cheap, expensive car or truck.
15. The law of siblings - There is a time and a place to launch a second brand. “The key to a family approach is to make each sibling a unique individual brand with its own identity.
Resist the urge to give the brands a family look or identity. You want to make each brand a different and distinct as possible.”
16. The law of shape - A brand’s logotype should be designed to fit the eye. Both eyes. The ideal shape for a logotype or brand symbol is two and a quarter units wide and one unit high.
17. The law of color - A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitor’s.
18. The law of borders - There are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders.
19. The law of consistency - A brand is not built overnight. Success is measured in decades, not years.
20. The law of change - Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and very carefully.
21. The law of mortality - No brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often the best solution.
22. The law of singularity - The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness.
A common refrain for people thinking up business ideas is that all the good ideas have already been done. This of course isn’t true, but it sure can feel that way!
On numerous occasions I’ve had what I thought was a lightening bolt idea only to find that someone has not only thought of it before but has even gone out and built a really great business out of it. While it is rather vindicating to see that your idea really did have merit, it is also a bit disappointing. But should you give up? And if you don’t, then how do you go about taking on such a challenge?
Finding an established competitor is not necessarily cause to quit on the spot. It is however reason to think very carefully, and assess whether you have the resources, energy and ingenuity to go for it. Make no mistake, having an established and successful competitor will make things much harder. On the other hand, they prove that a market exists, and for larger competitors, even the left-overs can be very worthwhile. In one of the biggest markets - internet search - even a measly 1% of the market is apparently worth $1 billion dollars in market cap - sort of explains why companies like Ask keep at it when Google seems to have won the market hands down.
Now not all businesses are the same and not all competitors are equally established. But for the purposes of this post, let’s assume that the established competitor is pretty well entrenched, well known, and generally accepted to be the company in this space. So think the TechCrunch of tech blogging, the Twitter of short messaging, the Digg of social news. And let’s assume that you want in on the action but are coming to the field as a total unknown.
Challenging an established competitor requires you to have a solid game plan. The one thing you definitely do not want to do is try to compete head on by creating a virtually identical product. That would be sort of like playing chicken with a Mack truck when you’re in a Ford Pinto. If there is a dominant competitor already in the market that everyone knows, it’s unlikely they are going to switch over to your product, even if it’s a little bit cheaper or a little bit better. Most people have a limited attention span meaning there is only so much room for different brands to compete for. Once they’ve gotten used to a product or company, it’s hard to get them to switch.
Here are seven potential strategies on how you might go about taking on an entrenched competitor:
(1) Specialize / Subniche
Given a reasonably large market there are usually many sub-niches that can be served by a specialized provider. For example Google may dominate internet search, but there are many subsets of internet search where other companies are flourishing. Some great examples include SimplyHired and job searching, Technorati and blog searching (actually Google has been doing pretty well there too lately), travel search and Kayak, and so on. Similarly while Digg may arguably dominate social news, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for niche social news sites like Sphinn for SEO news, Tipd for stock market news, ShowHype for celebrity news and my favourite Hacker News for startup and dev news.
Specialization works because it allows you to tailor a product more specifically to niche needs. The question then is how can you use this as a strategy to grow upwards and take on the original competitor. The answer lies in horizontal expansion.
If you look at each subniche as a front to use to gain ground on the top level competitor, then dominating one should give you enough leverage to move horizontally to fill another, and then another. Once you gain enough subniches your combined audience should start becoming sizeable and you begin to really compete.
The difficulty in this strategy is that subniching requires specialization and as you add subniches you necessarily loose some of that specialization, and therefore potentially leadership of each individual subniche. It can also be pretty hard to pull a brand out of a subniche and reinvent it to fill a larger category.
The great strength of this strategy is that you can build a profitable business in a subniche before trying to bite off more than you can chew. Even if you get stumped along the way, you should still be in a good position. For example let’s say SimplyHired decided to make SimplyTravel and then later SimplyRentals, to add travel and real estate search to its portfolio. It would seem doubtful that they’d manage to take on Google, but on the other hand provided they consolidate each subniche as they go, they should end up with three related profitable subniche businesses and potentially a “Simply” brand of quality niche search engine.
(2) Dramatically Change the Product Features (and Yes, Price is a Feature)
Changing features on a product is the most obvious way to take on a competitor. And out of all the features that businesses try to use as a hook, price is probably the most common. What is important to remember though is that you need a substantial difference in features for this to work. If you say take 10% off the price, add one or two “oh that’s neat” features, chances are your product won’t be different enough to really win away many users.
A while back I was surveying project management web apps for a blog post. The first couple I looked at stuck in my head, but by the time I’d gotten to about 10, they’d all kinda blurred into one. Sure some of them were cheaper, some had an extra feature or two, but really the only ones that I’d remember were the first couple. Now a small change in features or price may win some users, and you can even build a healthy business out of it.
But you will never be able to really challenge the competition with a 10% upgrade.
If you want to go this route, you need to turn things on their head. If price is the feature, then it needs to be like 90% cheaper. If it’s a feature it has to be a feature that makes people go “wow this changes everything”. These sorts of game busting differences effectively create new markets, ones which can then be dominated.
A great example of a company that turned pricing on its head is iStockPhoto. Before they came along, traditional stock houses would charge hundreds of dollars per photo. iStock initially charged just 50 cents. Sure the product was the same - a photo is a photo (and believe me the quality sometimes is pretty indistinguishable between cheap and expensive stock) - but with that price difference they’d created an entirely new market. iStock went on to dominate so well that their original behemoth competitor Getty not only acquired them, but then made iStock a large part of the core strategy of the company.
Two examples of companies that have delivered huge non-pricing feature changes spring to mind, Dell and Amazon. In the first case, Dell introduced the ‘configure to order’ model of PC manufacturing, which along with its innovations in delivery changed a lot about how people bought PCs. In the latter case, Amazon took bookselling online effectively using online ordering and delivery as a massive feature change to a traditional business.
Of course a dramatic feature change doesn’t need to be quite as industry changing as these examples to be an effective strategy, but they do illustrate how the bigger the change, the better the play. It’s hard to imagine any other way unknown companies could have broken into the top echelons of industries like personal computers and book sales!
(3) Position Yourself as the Alternative
There’s a brilliant book on marketing called The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, in which the authors discuss what they call the Law of Duality. The idea is that in the long run every market becomes a two horse race. So think Coca Cola and Pepsi, McDonalds and Burger King, Crest and Colgate. The authors state that there is only really room for two brands in a consumers head - the leader and the other guy.
This idea implies that one way to take on an established competitor is to be .. the other guy! Set yourself up as the yin to their yang. You can even market yourself that way - “Project Management for when Basecamp doesn’t cut it”, “Hi I’m PC, and I’m a Mac” - banking on a certain segment of the population not liking the market leader and playing up to it.
From a branding perspective being the other guy is a tough springboard to becoming market leader, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a profitable place to be. And history has shown us that if you wait long enough companies have a tendency to make mistakes. Sooner or later a new technology will come along that you can pounce on first, or your competitor will let some aspect of the business slide leaving a hole open for you to attack. Remember when you’re in second place, you’re ideally placed to take the crown if the leader falters.
If you’re a fellow TechCrunch reader you’ll no doubt have noticed that in social networking there are often companies that are “big in Brazil” or that “really dominate Asia”. Just because Facebook and MySpace seem to be the market leaders, doesn’t mean there aren’t a dozen other social networking sites that are absolutely massive. Hi5, Orkut, Netlog, Friendster, Bebo … The list is pretty long (and incidentally has a particularly high number of silly names).
The funniest example of how successful internationalization can be was when the German Facebook clone Studivz sold for 100 million Euros. What’s so funny about that? Well lets just say if you changed blue to red, Facebook and Studivz showed some remarkable similarities. Even today, 2 years on, you can still see the lineage pretty clearly.
(5) Generalize / Superniche
Just like you can subniche, you can superniche too. That is go over the top of your competitor and build a service or product with broader appeal to capture the larger market. In many cases the most general, top level niche is, however, the first one occupied so this is potentially not a viable strategy in many cases.
For the same reasons that subniching is a relatively safe strategy, superniching is a potentially hazardous one. It means you have to be all things to all people and you risk missing the mark on many fronts. Instead of having a safe subniche to dominate, you are going to attempt to compete with the established competitor not only on their home turf, but on others too! Definitely not for the faint of heart, or empty of wallet.
(6) Parallel Niches
Just as internationalization lets you apply the same basic product idea to different global audiences, this strategy is about applying the same basic product idea to different audiences in other contexts. A great example comes from the world of social messaging where Twitter is rapidly becoming the de facto brand. But if recently I’ve also seen a lot of reapplications of the Twitter concept to other markets, like Yammer which is “Twitter for Business” and Edmodo which is “Twitter for Education”.
Note that these aren’t subniches of Twitter’s core niche, these are alternate markets. Often they will have specific features tailored to those markets which make the product reasonably different. You might look at this strategy as a sort of combination of (1) and (2) above. But the real difference is that another way of describing Twitter is as “Twitter for External Use” whereas the other two companies are subniches of a different market, namely “Twitter for Internal Use”.
(7) Support the competitor!
One more way to take on is to supporting the competitor. In this way you get some audience and recognition in the already grown company which can be helpful for future strategies.
It’s all about differentiation
The core idea behind all six strategies is really the same - differentiation. It’s hard to win in a head to head battle when your opponent has massive advantages in size, recognition, cash, audience and brand. So if you’re going to challenge them, the best thing to do is get them off their home turf. Using this secondary battleground you can build up your own size and strength until you’re finally ready to turn around and give them a run for their money.
This is a favourite subject of mine, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Are there other strategies that I’ve missed? Are these six all really a single basic strategy? Is differentiation and brand positioning the most important thing in challenging an established competitor?
You can also carve a piece of the market by differentiating in other aspects/functions of your business e.g the delivery/distribution model, customer service etc. A smart thing to do would be de-construct the way the big competitor “does” business, or treats its customers, and then aim to provide what they don’t.
So for example, if their customer service is rubbish, a new entrant could attract business away simply by offering a similar (or superior) product backed up by superior customer service. Or differentiating themselves through their product development function by getting the consumer/user involved.
Changing a product feature can also mean making a better product. Useful innovation is great way to gain market share. Apple did it with the I-pod, and took over the portable audio market. Innovation is not easy and requires significant research and development. For a small company this mean having a founder or co-founder that has the skill set and resources for whatever research and development that is needed to innovate.
1. It is impossible to picture empty space. All our efforts to imagine pure space from which the changing images of material objects are excluded can only result in a representation in which highly-coloured surfaces, for instance, are replaced by lines of slight colouration, and if we continued in this direction to the end, everything would disappear and end in nothing. Hence arises the irreducible relativity of space.
Whoever speaks of absolute space uses a word devoid of meaning. This is a truth that has been long proclaimed by all who have reflected on the question, but one which we are too often inclined to forget.
If I am at a definite point in Paris, at the Place du Panthéon, for instance, and I say, "I will come back here tomorrow;" if I am asked, "Do you mean that you will come back to the same point in space?" I should be tempted to answer yes. Yet I should be wrong, since between now and tomorrow the earth will have moved, carrying with it the Place du Panthéon, which will have travelled more than a million miles. And if I wished to speak more accurately, I should gain nothing, since this million of miles has been covered by our globe in its motion in relation to the sun, and the sun in its turn moves in relation to the Milky Way, and the Milky Way itself is no doubt in motion without our being able to recognise its velocity. So that we are, and shall always be, completely ignorant how far the Place du Panthéon moves in a day. In fact, what I meant to say was,
"Tomorrow I shall see once more the dome and pediment of the Panthéon,"
and if there was no Panthéon my sentence would have no meaning and space would disappear.
This is one of the most commonplace forms of the principle of the relativity of space, but there is another on which Delbeuf has laid particular stress. Suppose that in one night all the dimensions of the universe became a thousand times larger. The world will remain similar to itself, if we give the word similitude the meaning it has in the third book of Euclid. Only, what was formerly a metre long will now measure a kilometre, and what was a millimetre long will become a metre. The bed in which I went to sleep and my body itself will have grown in the same proportion. When I awake in the morning what will be my feeling in face of such an astonishing transformation? Well, I shall not notice anything at all. The most exact measures will be incapable of revealing anything of this tremendous change, since the yard-measures I shall use will have varied in exactly the same proportions as the objects I shall attempt to measure. In reality the change only exists for those who argue as if space were absolute. If I have argued for a moment as they do, it was only in order to make it clearer that their view implies a contradiction. In reality it would be better to say that as space is relative, nothing at all has happened, and that it is for that reason that we have noticed nothing.
Have we any right, therefore, to say that we know the distance between two points? No, since that distance could undergo enormous variations without our being able to perceive it, provided other distances varied in the same proportions. We saw just now that when I say I shall be here tomorrow, that does not mean that tomorrow I shall be at the point in space where I am today, but that tomorrow I shall be at the same distance from the Panthéon as I am today. And already this statement is not sufficient, and I ought to say that tomorrow and today my distance from the Panthéon will be equal to the same number of times the length of my body.
But that is not all. I imagined the dimensions of the world changing, but at least the world remaining always similar to itself. We can go much further than that, and one of the most surprising theories of modern physicists will furnish the occasion. According to a hypothesis of Lorentz and Fitzgerald, all bodies carried forward in the earth's motion undergo a deformation. This deformation is, in truth, very slight, since all dimensions parallel with the earth's motion are diminished by a hundred-millionth, while dimensions perpendicular to this motion are not altered. But it matters little that it is slight; it is enough that it should exist for the conclusion I am soon going to draw from it. Besides, though I said that it is slight, I really know nothing about it. I have myself fallen a victim to the tenacious illusion that makes us believe that we think of an absolute space. I was thinking of the earth's motion on its elliptical orbit round the sun, and I allowed 18 miles a second for its velocity. But its true velocity (I mean this time, not its absolute velocity, which has no sense, but its velocity in relation to the ether), this I do not know and have no means of knowing. It is, perhaps, 10 or 100 times as high, and then the deformation will be 100 or 10,000 times as great.
It is evident that we cannot demonstrate this deformation. Take a cube with sides a yard long. it is deformed on account of the earth's velocity; one of its sides, that parallel with the motion, becomes smaller, the others do not vary. If I wish to assure myself of this with the help of a yard-measure, I shall measure first one of the sides perpendicular to the motion, and satisfy myself that my measure fit s this side exactly ; and indeed neither one nor other of these lengths is altered, since they are both perpendicular to the motion. I then wish to measure the other side, that parallel with the motion ; for this purpose I change the position of my measure, and turn it so as to apply it to this side. But the yard-measure, having changed its direction and having become parallel with the motion, has in its turn undergone the deformation so that, though the side is no longer a yard long, it will still fit it exactly, and I shall be aware of nothing.
What, then, I shall be asked, is the use of the hypothesis of Lorentz and Fitzgerald if no experiment can enable us to verify it? The fact is that my statement has been incomplete. I have only spoken of measurements that can be made with a yard-measure, but we can also measure a distance by the time that light takes to traverse it, on condition that we admit that the velocity of light is constant, and independent of its direction. Lorentz could have accounted for the facts by supposing that the velocity of light is greater in the direction of the earth's motion than in the perpendicular direction. He preferred to admit that the velocity is the same in the two directions, but that bodies are smaller in the former than in the latter. If the surfaces of the waves of light had undergone the same deformations as material bodies, we should never have perceived the Lorentz-Fitzgerald deformation.
In the one case as in the other, there can be no question of absolute magnitude, but of the measurement of that magnitude by means of some instrument. This instrument may be a yard-measure or the path traversed by light. It is only the relation of the magnitude to the instrument that we measure, and if this relation is altered, we have no means of knowing whether it is the magnitude or the instrument that has changed.
But what I wish to make clear is, that in this deformation the world has not remained similar to itself. Squares have become rectangles or parallelograms, circles ellipses, and spheres ellipsoids. And yet we have no means of knowing whether this deformation is real.
It is clear that we might go much further. Instead of the Lorentz-Fitzgerald deformation, with its extremely simple laws, we might imagine a deformation of any kind whatever; bodies might be deformed in accordance with any laws, as complicated as we liked, and we should not perceive it, provided all bodies without exception were deformed in accordance with the same laws. When I say all bodies without exception, I include, of course, our own bodies and the rays of light emanating from the different objects.
If we look at the world in one of those mirrors of complicated form which deform objects in an odd way, the mutual relations of the different parts of the world are not altered; if, in fact, two real objects touch, their images likewise appear to touch. In truth, when we look in such a mirror we readily perceive the deformation but it is because the real world exists beside its deformed image. And even if this real world were hidden from us, there is something which cannot be hidden, and that is ourselves. We cannot help seeing, or at least feeling, our body and our members which have not been deformed, and continue to act as measuring instruments. But if we imagine our body itself deformed, and in the same way as if it were seen in the mirror, these measuring instruments will fail us in their turn, and the deformation will no longer be able to be ascertained.
Imagine, in the same way, two universes which are the image one of the other. With each object P in the universe A, there corresponds, in the universe B, an object P1 which is its image. The co-ordinates of this image P1 are determinate functions of those of the object P ; moreover, these functions ma be of any kind whatever - I assume only that they are chosen once for all. Between the position of P and that of P1 there is a constant relation ; it matters little what that relation may be, it is enough that it should be constant.
Well, these two universes will be indistinguishable.
I mean to say that the former will be for its inhabitants what the second is for its own. This would be true so long as the two universes remained foreign to one another. Suppose we are inhabitants of the universe A ; we have constructed our science and particularly our geometry. During this time the inhabitants of the universe B have constructed a science, and as their world is the image of ours, their geometry will also be the image of ours, or, more accurately, it will be the same. But if one day a window were to open for us upon the universe B, we should feel contempt for them, and we should say, "These wretched people imagine that they have made a geometry, but what they so name is only a grotesque image of ours; their straight lines are all twisted, their circles are hunchbacked, and their spheres have capricious inequalities." We should have no suspicion that they were saying the same of us, and that no one will ever know which is right.
We see in how large a sense we must understand the relativity of space. Space is in reality amorphous, and it is only the things that are in it that give it a form. What are we to think, then, of that direct intuition we have of a straight line or of distance? We have so little the intuition of distance in itself that, in a single night, as we have said, a distance could become a thousand times greater without our being able to perceive it, if all other distances had undergone the same alteration. And in a night the universe B might even be substituted for the universe A without our having any means of knowing it, and then the straight lines of yesterday would have ceased to be straight, and we should not be aware of anything.
One part of space is not by itself and in the absolute sense of the word equal to another part of space, for if it is so for us, it will not be so for the inhabitants of the universe B, and they have precisely as much right to reject our opinion as we have to condemn theirs.
I have shown elsewhere what are the consequences of these facts from the point of view of the idea that we should construct non-Euclidean and other analogous geometries. I do not wish to return to this, and I will take a somewhat different point of view.
2. If this intuition of distance, of direction, of the straight line, if, in a word, this direct intuition of space does not exist, whence comes it that we imagine we have it? If this is only an illusion, whence comes it that the illusion is so tenacious ? This is what we must examine. There is no direct intuition of magnitude, as we have said, and we can only arrive at the relation of the magnitude to our measuring instruments. Accordingly we could not have constructed space if we had not had an instrument for measuring it. Well, that instrument to which we refer everything, which we use instinctively, is our own body. It is in reference to our own body that we locate exterior objects, and the only special relations of these objects that we can picture to ourselves are their relations with our body. It is our body that serves us, so to speak, as a system of axes of co-ordinates.
For instance, at a moment a the presence of an object A is revealed to me by the sense of sight; at another moment b the presence of another object B is revealed by another sense, that, for instance, of hearing or of touch. I judge that this object B occupies the same place as the object A. What does this mean? To begin with, it does not imply that these two objects occupy, at two different moments, the same point in an absolute space, which, even if it existed, would escape our knowledge, since between the moments a and P the solar system has been displaced and we cannot know what this displacement is. It means that these two objects occupy the same relative position in reference to our body.
But what is meant even by this? The impressions that have come to us from these objects have followed absolutely different paths - the optic nerve for the object A, and the acoustic nerve for the object B - they have nothing in common from the qualitative point of view.' The representations we can form of these two objects are absolutely heterogeneous and irreducible one to the other. Only I know that, in order to reach the object A, I have only to extend my right arm in a certain way; even though I refrain from doing it, I represent to myself the muscular and other analogous sensations which accompany that extension, and that representation is associated with that of the object A.
Now I know equally that I can reach the object B by extending my right arm in the same way, an extension accompanied by the same train of muscular sensations. And I mean nothing else but this when I say that these two objects occupy the same position.
I know also that I could have reached the object A by another appropriate movement of the left arm, and I represent to myself the muscular sensations that would have accompanied the movement. And by the same movement of the left arm, accompanied by the same sensations, I could equally have reached the object B.
And this is very important, since it is in this way that I could defend myself against the dangers with which the object A or the object B might threaten me. With each of the blows that may strike us, nature has associated one or several parries which enable us to protect ourselves against them. The same parry may answer to several blows. It is thus, for instance, that the same movement of the right arm would have enabled us to defend ourselves at the moment a against the object A, and at the moment b against the object B. Similarly, the same blow may be parried in several ways, and we have said, for instance, that we could reach the object A equally well either by a certain movement of the right arm, or by a certain movement of the left.
All these parries have nothing in common with one another, except that they enable us to avoid the same blow, and it is that, and nothing but that, we mean when we say that they are movements ending in the same point in space. Similarly, these objects, of which we say that they occupy the same point in space, have nothing in common, except that the same parry can enable us to defend ourselves against them.
Or, if we prefer it, let us imagine innumerable telegraph wires, some centripetal and others centrifugal. The centripetal wires warn us of accidents that occur outside, the centrifugal wires have to provide the remedy. Connections are established in such a way that when one of the centripetal wires is traversed by a current, this current acts on a central exchange, and so excites a current in one of the centrifugal wires, and matters are so arranged that several centripetal wires can act on the same centrifugal wire, if the same remedy is applicable to several evils, and that one centripetal wire can disturb several centrifugal wires, either simultaneously or one in default of the other, every time that the same evil can be cured by several remedies.
It is this complex system of associations, it is this distribution board, so to speak, that is our whole geometry, or, if you will, all that is distinctive in our geometry. What we call our intuition of a straight line or of distance is the consciousness we have of these associations and of their imperious character.
Whence this imperious character itself comes, it is easy to understand. The older an association is, the more indestructible it will appear to us. But these associations are not, for the most part, conquests made by the individual, since we see traces of them in the newly-born infant they are conquests made by the race. The more necessary these conquests were, the more quickly they must have been brought about by natural selection.
On this account those we have been speaking of must have been among the earliest, since without them the defence of the organism would have been impossible. As soon as the cells were no longer merely in juxtaposition, as soon as they were called upon to give mutual assistance to each other, some such mechanism as we have been describing must necessarily have been organised in order that the assistance should meet the danger without miscarrying.
When a frog's head has been cut off, and a drop of acid is placed at some point on its skin, it tries to rub off the acid with the nearest foot; and if that foot is cut off, it removes it with the other foot. Here we have, clearly, that double parry I spoke of just now, making it possible to oppose an evil by a second remedy if the first fails. It is this multiplicity of parries, and the resulting co-ordination, that is space.
We see to what depths of unconsciousness we have to descend to find the first traces of these spatial associations, since the lowest parts of the nervous system alone come into play. Once we have realised this, how can we be astonished at the resistance we oppose to any attempt to dissociate what has been so long associated? Now, it is this very resistance that we call the evidence of the truths of geometry. This evidence is nothing else than the repugnance we feel at breaking with very old habits with which we have always got on very well.
3. The space thus created is only a small space that does not extend beyond what my arm can reach, and the intervention of memory is necessary to set back its limits. There are points that will always remain out of my reach, whatever effort I may make to stretch out my hand to them. If I were attached to the ground, like a sea-polyp, for instance, which can only extend its tentacles, all these points would be outside space, since the sensations we might experience from the action of bodies placed there would not be associated with the idea of any movement enabling us to reach them, or with any appropriate parry. These sensations would not seem to us to have any spatial character, and we should not attempt to locate them.
But we are not fixed to the ground like the inferior animals. If the enemy is too far off, we can advance upon him first and extend our hand when we are near enough. This is still a parry, but a long-distance parry. Moreover, it is a complex parry, and into the representation we make of it there enter the representation of the muscular sensations caused by the movement of the legs, that of the muscular sensations caused by the final movement of the arm, that of the sensations of the semi-circular canals, etc. Besides, we have to make a representation, not of a complexus of simultaneous sensations, but of a complexus of successive sensations, following one another in a determined order, and it is for this reason that I said just now that the intervention of memory is necessary.
We must further observe that, to reach the same point, I can approach nearer the object to be attained, in order not to have to extend my hand so far. And how much more might be said? It is not one only, but a thousand parries I can oppose to. the same danger. All these parries are formed of sensations that may have nothing in common, and yet we regard them as defining the same point in space, because they can answer to the same danger and are one and all of them associated with the notion of that danger. It is the possibility of parrying the same blow which makes the unity of these different parries, just as it is the possibility of being parried in the same way which makes the unity of the blows of such different kinds that can threaten us from the same point in space. It is this double unity that makes t he individuality of each point in space, and in the notion of such a point there is nothing else but this.
The space I pictured in the preceding section, which I might call restricted space, was referred to axes of co-ordinates attached to my body. These axes were fixed, since my body did not move, and it was only my limbs that changed their position. What are the axes to which the extended space is naturally referred - that is to say, the new space I have just defined? We define a point by the succession of movements we require to make to reach it, starting from a certain initial position of the body. The axes are accordingly attached to this initial position of the body.
But the position I call initial may be arbitrarily chosen from among all the positions my body has successively occupied. If a more or less unconscious memory of these successive positions is necessary for the genesis of the notion of space, this memory can go back more or less into the past. Hence results a certain indeterminateness in the very definition of space, and it is precisely this indeterminateness which constitutes its relativity.
Absolute space exists no longer; there is only space relative to a certain initial position of the body. For a conscious being, fixed to the ground like the inferior animals, who would consequently only know restricted space, space would still be relative, since it would be referred to his body, but this being would not be conscious of the relativity, because the axes to which he referred this restricted space would not change. No doubt the rock to which he was chained would not be motionless, since it would be involved in the motion of our planet; for us, consequently, these axes would change every moment, but for him they would not change. We have the faculty of referring our extended space at one time to the position A of our body considered as initial, at another to the position B which it occupied some moments later, which we are free to consider in its turn as initial, and, accordingly, we make unconscious changes in the co-ordinates every moment. This faculty would fail our imaginary being, and, through not having travelled, he would think space absolute. Every moment his system of axes would be imposed on him; this system might change to any extent in reality, for him it would be always the same, since it would always be the unique system. It is not the same for us who possess, each moment, several systems between which we can choose at will, and on condition of going back by memory more or less into the past.
That is not all, for the restricted space would not be homogeneous. The different points of this space could not be regarded as equivalent, since some could only be reached at the cost of the greatest efforts, while others could be reached with ease. On the contrary, our extended space appears to us homogeneous, and we say that all its points are equivalent. What does this mean?
If we start from a certain position A, we can, starting from that position, effect certain movements M, characterised by a certain complexus of muscular sensations. But, starting from another position B, we can execute movements M, which will be characterised by the same muscular sensations. Then let a be the situation of a certain point in the body, the tip of the forefinger of the right hand, for instance, in the initial position A, and let b be the position of this same forefinger when, starting from that position A, we have executed the movements M. Then let a1 be the situation of the forefinger in the position B, and b1 its situation when, starting from the position B, we have executed the movements M1.
Well, I am in the habit of saying that the points a and b are, in relation to each other, as the points a' and b, and that means simply that the two series of movements M and M1 are accompanied by the same muscular sensations. And as I am conscious that, in passing from the position A to the position B, my body has remained capable of the same movements, I know that there is a point in space which is to the point a' what some point b is to the point a, so that the two points a and a' are equivalent. It is this that is called the homogeneity of space, and at the same time it is for this reason that space is relative, since its properties remain the same whether they are referred to the axes A or to the axes B. So that the relativity of space and its homogeneity are one and the same thing.
Now, if I wish to pass to the great space, which is no longer to serve for my individual use only, but in which I can lodge the universe I shall arrive at it by an act of imagination. I shall imagine what a giant would experience who could reach the planets in a few steps, or, if we prefer, what I should feel myself in presence of a world in miniature, in which these planets would be replaced by little balls, while on one of these little balls there would move a Lilliputian that l should call myself. But this act of imagination would be impossible for me if I had not previously constructed my restricted space and my extended space for my personal use.
4. Now we come to the question why all these spaces have three dimensions. Let us refer to the "distribution board" spoken of above. We have, on the one side, a list of the different possible dangers - let us designate them as A1, A2, etc. - and, on the other side, the list of the different remedies, which I will call in the same way B1, B2, etc. Then we have connections between the contact studs of the first list and those of the second in such a way that when, for instance, the alarm for danger A3 works, it sets in motion or may set in motion the relay corresponding to the parry B4.
As I spoke above of centripetal or centrifugal wires, I am afraid that all I have said may be taken, not as a simple comparison, but as a description of the nervous system. Such is not my thought, and that for several reasons. Firstly, I should not presume to pronounce an opinion on the structure of the nervous system which I do not know, while those who have studied it only do so with circumspection. Secondly, because, in spite of my incompetence, I fully realise that this scheme would be far too simple. And lastly, because, on my list of parries, there appear some that are very complex, which may even, in the case of extended space, as we have seen above, consist of several steps followed by a movement of the arm. It is not a question, then, of physical connection between two real conductors, but of psychological association between two series of sensations.
If A1 and A2, for instance, are both of them associated with the parry B1, and if A1 is similarly associated with B2, it will generally be the case that A2 and B2 will also be associated. If this fundamental law were not generally true, there would only be an immense confusion, and there would be nothing that could bear any resemblance to a conception of space or to a geometry. How, indeed, have we defined a point in space? We defined it in two ways: on the one hand, it is the whole of the alarms A which are in connection with the same parry B ; on the other, it is the whole of the parries B which are in connection with the same alarm A. If our law were not true, we should be obliged to say that A1 and A2 correspond with the same point, since they are both in connection with B1 ; but we should be equally obliged to say that they do not correspond with the same point, since A1 would be in connection with B2, and this would not be true of A2 - which would be a contradiction.
But from another aspect, if the law were rigorously and invariably true, space would be quite different from what it is. We should have well-defined categories, among which would be apportioned the alarms A on the one side and the parries B on the other. These categories would be exceedingly numerous, but they would be entirely separated one from the other. Space would be formed of points, very numerous but discrete; it would be discontinuous. There would be no reason for arranging these points in one order rather than another, nor, consequently, for attributing three dimensions to space.
But this is not the case. May I be permitted for a moment to use the language of those who know geometry already? It is necessary that I should do so, since it is the language best understood by those to whom I wish to make myself clear. When I wish to parry the blow, I try to reach the point whence the blow comes, but it is enough if I come fairly near it. The n the parry B1 may answer to A1, and to A2 if the point which corresponds with B1 is sufficiently close both to that which corresponds with A1 and to that which corresponds with A2. But it may happen that the point which corresponds with another parry B2 is near enough to the point corresponding with A1, and not near enough to the point corresponding with A2. And so the parry B2 may answer to A1 and not be able to answer to A2.
For those who do not yet know geometry, this may be translated simply by a modification of the law enunciated above. Then what happens is as follows. Two parries, B1 and B2, are associated with one alarm A1, and with a very great number of alarms that we Will place in the same category as A1, and make to correspond with the same point in space. But we may find alarms A2 which are associated with B2 and not with B1, but on the other hand are associated with B3, which are not with A1, and so on in succession, so that we may write the sequence B1, A1, B2, A2, B3, A3, B4, A4, in which each term is associated with the succeeding and preceding terms, but not with those that are several places removed.
It is unnecessary to add that each of the terms of these sequences is not isolated, but forms part of a very numerous category of other alarms or other parries which has the same connections as it, and may be regarded as belonging to the same point in space. Thus the fundamental law, though admitting of exceptions, remains almost always true. Only, in consequence of these exceptions, these categories, instead of being entirely separate, partially encroach upon each other and mutually overlap to a certain extent, so that space becomes continuous.
Furthermore, the order in which these categories must be arranged is no longer arbitrary, and a reference to the preceding sequence will make it clear that B2 must be placed between A1 and A2, and, consequently, between B1 and B3, and that it could not be placed, for instance, between B3 and B4.
Accordingly there is an order in which our categories range themselves naturally which corresponds with the points in space, and experience teaches us that this order presents itself in the form of a three circuit distribution board, and it is for this reason that space has three dimensions.
5. Thus the characteristic property of space, that of having three dimensions, is only a property of our distribution board, a property residing, so to speak, in the human intelligence. The destruction of some of these connections that is to say of these associations of ideas, would be sufficient to give us a different distribution board, and that might be enough to endow space with a fourth dimension.
Some people will be astonished at such a result. The exterior world, they think, must surely count for something. If the number of dimensions comes from the way in which we are made, there might be thinking beings living in our world, but made differently from us, who would think that space has more or less than three dimensions. Has not M. de Cyon said that Japanese mice, having only two pairs of semicircular canals, think that space has two dimensions? Then will not this thinking being, if he is capable of constructing a physical system, make a system of two or four dimensions, which yet, in a sense, will be the same as ours, since it will be the description of the same world in another language?
It quite seems, indeed, that it would be possible to translate our physics into the language of geometry of four dimensions. Attempting such a translation would be giving oneself a great deal of trouble for little profit, and I will content myself with mentioning Hertz's mechanics, in which something of the kind may be seen. Yet it seems that the translation would always be less simple than the text, and that it would never lose the appearance of a translation, for the language of three dimensions seems the best suited to the description of our world, even though that description may be made, in case of necessity, in another idiom.
Besides, it is not by chance that our distribution board has been formed. There is a connection between the alarm A1 and the parry B1, that is, a property residing in our intelligence. But why is there this connection? It is because the parry B1 enables us effectively to defend ourselves against the danger A1, and that. is a fact exterior to us, a property of the exterior world. Our distribution board, then, is only the translation of an assemblage of exterior facts; if it has three dimensions, it is because it has adapted itself to a world having certain properties, and the most important of these properties is that there exist natural solids which are clearly displaced in accordance with the laws we call laws of motion of unvarying solids. If, then, the language of three dimensions is that which enables us most easily to describe our world, we must not be surprised. This language is founded on our distribution board, and it is in order to. enable us to live in this world that this board has been established.
I have said that we could conceive of thinking beings, living in our world, whose distribution board would have four dimensions, who would, consequently, think in hyperspace. It is not certain, however, that such beings, admitting that,, they were born, would be able to live and defend 'themselves against the thousand dangers by which they would be assailed.
6. A few remarks in conclusion. There is a striking contrast between the roughness of this primitive geometry which is reduced to what I call a distribution board, and the infinite precision of the geometry of geometricians. And yet the latter is the child of the former, but not of it alone; it required to be fertilised by the faculty we have of constructing mathematical concepts, such, for instance, as that of the group. It was necessary to find among these pure concepts the one that was best adapted to this rough space, whose genesis I have tried to explain in the preceding pages, the space which is common to us and the higher animals.
The evidence of certain 'geometrical postulates is only, as I have said, our unwillingness to give up very old habits. But these postulates are infinitely precise, while the habits have about them something essentially fluid. As soon as we wish to think, we are bound to have infinitely precise postulates, since this is the only means of avoiding contradiction. But among all the possible systems of postulates, there are some that we shall be unwilling to choose, because they do not accord sufficiently with our habits. However fluid and elastic these may be, they have a limit of elasticity.
It will be seen that though geometry is not an experimental science, it is a science born in connection with experience; that we have created the space it studies, but adapting it to the world in which we live. We have chosen the most convenient space, but experience guided our choice. As the choice was unconscious, it appears to be imposed upon us. Some say that it is imposed by experience, and others that we are born with our space ready-made. After the preceding considerations, it will be seen what proportion of truth and of error there is - in these two opinions.
In this progressive education which has resulted in the construction of space, it is very difficult to determine what is the share of the individual and what of the race. To what extent could one of us, transported from his birth into an entirely different world, where, for instance, there existed bodies displaced in accordance with the laws of motion of non-Euclidean solids - to what extent, I say, would he be able to give up the ancestral space in order to build up an entirely new space?
The share of the race seems to preponderate largely, and yet if it is to it that we owe the rough space, the fluid space of which I spoke just now, the space of the higher animals, is it not to the unconscious experience of the individual that we owe the infinitely precise space of the geometrician? This is a question that is not easy of solution. I would mention, however, a fact which shows that the space bequeathed to us by our ancestors still preserves a certain plasticity. Certain hunters learn to shoot fish under the water, although the image of these fish is raised by refraction ; and, moreover, they do it instinctively. Accordingly they have learnt to modify their ancient instinct of direction, or, if you will, to substitute for the association A1, B1, another association A1, B2, because experience has shown them that the former does not succeed.
Postmodernism is not something we can settle once and for all and then use with a clear conscience. The concept, if there’s one, has to come at the end, and not at the beginning, of our discussions of it.
The good news from Washington is that every single person in Congress supports the concept of an information superhighway. The bad news is that no one has any idea what that means.
It has now become common to view the succession of economic paradigms since the Middle Ages in three distinct moments, each defined by the dominant sector of the economy: a first paradigm in which agriculture and the extraction of raw materials dominated the economy, a second in which industry and the manufacture of durable goods occupied the privileged position, and a third and current paradigm in which providing services and manipulating information are at the heart of economic production. The dominant position has thus passed from primary to secondary to tertiary production. Economic modernisation involves the passage from the first paradigm to the second, from the dominance of agriculture to that of industry. Modernisation means industrialisation. We might call the passage from the second paradigm to the third, from the domination of industry to that of services and information, a process of economic postmodernisation, or better, informatisation.
The most obvious definition and index of the shifts among these three paradigms appear first in quantitative terms, in reference either to the percentage of the population engaged in each of these productive domains or to the percentage of the total value produced by the various sectors of production. The changes in employment statistics in the dominant capitalist countries during the past one hundred years do indeed indicate dramatic shifts. This quantitative view, however, can lead to serious misunderstandings of these economic paradigms. Quantitative indicators cannot grasp either the qualitative transformation in the progression from one paradigm to another or the hierarchy among the economic sectors in the context of each paradigm. In the process of modernisation and the passage toward the paradigm of industrial dominance, not only did agricultural production decline quantitatively (both in percentage of workers employed and in proportion of the total value produced), but also, more important, agriculture itself was transformed. When agriculture came under the domination of industry, even when agriculture was still predominant in quantitative terms, it became subject to the social and financial pressures of industry, and moreover agricultural production itself was industrialised. Agriculture, of course, did not disappear; it remained an essential component of modern industrial economies, but it was now a transformed, industrialised agriculture.
The quantitative perspective also falls to recognise hierarchies among national or regional economies in the global system, which leads to all kinds of historical misrecognitions, posing analogies where none exist. From a quantitative perspective, for example, one might assume a twentieth-century society with the majority of its labour force occupied in agriculture or mining and the majority of its value produced in these sectors (such as India or Nigeria) to be in a position analogous to a society that existed sometime in the past with the same percentage of workers or value produced in those sectors (such as France or England). The historical illusion casts the analogy in a dynamic sequence so that one economic system occupies the same position or stage in a sequence of development that another had held in a previous period, as if all were on the same track moving forward in line. From the qualitative perspective, that is, in terms of their position in global power relationships, however, the economies of these societies occupy entirely incomparable positions. In the earlier case (France or England of the past), the agricultural production existed as the dominant sector in its economic sphere, and in the later (twentieth-century India or Nigeria), it is subordinated to industry in the world system. The two economies are not on the same track but in radically different and even divergent situations of dominance and subordination. In these different positions of hierarchy, a host of economic factors is completely different exchange relationships, credit and debt relationships, and so forth.’ In order for the latter economy to realise a position analogous to that of the former, it would have to invert the power relationship and achieve a position of dominance in its contemporary economic sphere, as Europe did, for example, in the medieval economy of the Mediterranean world. Historical change, in other words, has to be recognised in terms of the power relationships throughout the economic sphere.
Illusions of Development
The discourse of economic development, which was imposed under U.S. hegemony in coordination with the New Deal model in the postwar period, uses such false historical analogies as the foundation for economic policies. This discourse conceives the economic history of all countries as following one single pattern of development, each at different times and according to different speeds. Countries whose economic production is not presently at the level of the dominant countries are thus seen as developing countries, with the idea that if they continue on the path followed previously by the dominant countries and repeat their economic policies and strategies, they will eventually enjoy an analogous position or stage. The developmental view fails to recognise, however, that the economies of the so-called developed countries are defined not only by certain quantitative factors or by their internal structures, but also and more important by their dominant position in the global system.
The critiques of the developmentalist view that were posed by underdevelopment theories and dependency theories, which were born primarily in the Latin American and African contexts in the 1960s, were useful and important precisely because they emphasised the fact that the evolution of a regional or national economic system depends to a large extent on its place within the hierarchy and power structures of the capitalist world-system. The dominant regions will continue to develop and the subordinate will continue to underdevelop as mutually supporting poles in the global power structure. To say that the subordinate economies do not develop does not mean that they do not change or grow; it means, rather, that they remain subordinate in the global system and thus never achieve the promised form of a dominant, developed economy. In some cases individual countries or regions may be able to change their position in the hierarchy, but the point is that, regardless of who fills which position, the hierarchy remains the determining factor.
The theorists of underdevelopment themselves, however, also repeat a similar illusion of economic development. Summarising in schematic terms, we could say that their logic begins with two valid historical claims but then draws from them an erroneous conclusion. First, they maintain that, through the imposition of colonial regimes and/or other forms of imperialist domination, the underdevelopment of subordinated economies was created and sustained by their integration into the global network of dominant capitalist economies, their partial articulation, and thus their real and continuing dependence on those dominant economies. Second, they claim that the dominant economies themselves had originally developed their fully articulated and independent structures in relative isolation, with only limited interaction with other economies and global networks.
From these two more or less acceptable historical claims, however, they then deduce an invalid conclusion: if the developed economies achieved full articulation in relative isolation and the underdeveloped economies became disarticulated and dependent through their integration into global networks, then a project for the relative isolation of the underdeveloped economies will result in their development and full articulation. In other words, as an alternative to the “false development” pandered by the economists of the dominant capitalist countries, the theorists of underdevelopment promoted “real development,” which involves de-linking an economy from its dependent relationships and articulating in relative isolation an autonomous economic structure. Since this is how the dominant economies developed, it must be the true path to escape the cycle of underdevelopment. This syllogism, however, asks us to believe that the laws of economic development will somehow transcend the differences of historical change.
The alternative notion of development is based paradoxically on the same historical illusion central to the dominant ideology of development it opposes. The tendential realisation of the world market should destroy any notion that today a country or region could isolate or de-link itself from the global networks of power in order to re-create the conditions of the past and develop as the dominant capitalist countries once did. Even the dominant countries are now dependent on the global system; the interactions of the world market have resulted in a generalised disarticulation of all economics. Increasingly, any attempt at isolation or separation win mean only a more brutal kind of domination by the global system, a reduction to powerlessness and poverty.
The processes of modernisation and industrialisation transformed and redefined all the elements of the social plane. When agriculture was modernised as industry, the farm progressively became a factory, with all of the factory’s discipline, technology, wage relations, and so forth. Agriculture was modernised as industry. More generally, society itself slowly became industrialised even to the point of transforming human relations and human nature. Society became a factory. In the early twentieth century, Robert Musil reflected beautifully on the transformation of humanity in the passage from the pastoral agricultural world to the social factory: “There was a time when people grew naturally into the conditions they found waiting for them and that was a very sound way of becoming oneself. But nowadays, with all this shaking up of things, when everything is becoming detached from the soil it grew in, even where the production of soul is concerned one really ought, as it were, to replace the traditional handicrafts by the sort of intelligence that goes with the machine and the factory.” The processes of becoming human and the nature of the human itself were fundamentally transformed in the passage defined by modernisation.
In our times, however, modernisation has come to an end. In other words, industrial production is no longer expanding its dominance over other economic forms and social phenomena. A symptom of this shift is manifest in the quantitative changes in employment. Whereas the process of modernisation was indicated by a migration of labour from agriculture and mining (the primary sector) to industry (the secondary), the process of post-modernisation or informatisation has been demonstrated through the migration from industry to service Jobs (the tertiary), a shift that has taken place in the dominant capitalist countries, and particularly in the United States, since the early 1970s. Services cover a wide range of activities from health care, education, and finance to transportation, entertainment, and advertising. The jobs for the most part are highly mobile and involve flexible skills. More important, they are characterised in general by the central role played by knowledge, information, affect, and communication. In this sense many call the postindustrial economy an informational economy.
The claim that modernisation is over and that the global economy is today undergoing a process of postmodernisation toward an informational economy does not mean that industrial production will be done away with or even that it win cease to play an important role, even in the most dominant regions of the globe.
just as the processes of industrialisation transformed agriculture and made it more productive, so too the informational revolution will transform industry by redefining and rejuvenating manufacturing processes. The new managerial imperative operative here is, “Treat manufacturing as a service.” In effect, as industries are transformed, the division between manufacturing and services is becoming blurred. Just as through the process of modernisation all production tended to become industrialised, so too through the process of postmodernisation all production tends toward the production of services, toward becoming informationalised.
Not all countries, of course, even among the dominant capitalist countries, have embarked on the project of postmodernisation along the same path. On the basis of the change of employment statistics in the G-7 countries since 1970, Manuel Castells and Yuko Aoyama have discerned two basic models or paths of informatisation. Both models involve the increase of employment in postindustrial services, but they emphasise different kinds of services and different relations between services and manufacturing. The first path tends toward a service economy model and is led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. This model involves a id decline in industrial jobs and a corresponding rapid rise in service-sector jobs. In particular, the financial services that manage capital come to dominate the other service sectors. In the second model, the info-industrial model, typified by japan and Germany, industrial employment declines more slowly than it does in the first model, and, more important, the process of informatisation is closely integrated into and serves to reinforce the strength of existing industrial production. Services related directly to industrial production thus remain more important in this model relative to other services. The two models represent two strategies to manage and gain an advantage in the economic transition, but it should be clear that they both move resolutely in the direction of the informatisation of the economy and the heightened importance of productive flows and networks.
Although the subordinated countries and regions of the world are not capable of implementing such strategies, the processes of postmodernisation nonetheless impose irreversible changes on them. The fact that informatisation and the shift toward services have taken place thus far primarily in the dominant capitalist countries and not elsewhere should not lead us back to an understanding of the contemporary global economic situation in terms of linear stages of development. It is true that as industrial production has declined in the dominant countries, it has been effectively exported to subordinated countries, from the United States and japan, for example, to Mexico and Malaysia. Such geographical shifts and displacements might lead some to believe that there is a new global organisation of economic stages whereby the dominant countries are informational service economies, their first subordinates are industrial economies, and those further subordinated are agricultural. From the perspective of stages of development, for example, one might think that through the contemporary export of industrial production, an auto factory built by Ford in Brazil in the 1990s might be comparable to a Ford factory in Detroit in the 1930s because both instances of production belong to the same industrial stage.
When we look more closely, however, we can see that the two factories are not comparable, and the differences are extremely important. First of all, the two factories are radically different in terms of technology and productive practices. When fixed capital is exported, it is exported generally at its highest level of productivity. The Ford factory in 1990s Brazil, then, would not be built with the technology of the Ford factory of 1930s Detroit, but would be based on the most advanced and most productive computer and informational technologies available. The technological infrastructure of the factory itself would locate it squarely within the informational economy. Second, and perhaps more important, the two factories stand in different relations of dominance with respect to the global economy as a whole. The Detroit auto factory of the 1930s stood at the pinnacle of the global economy in the dominant position and producing the highest value; the 1990s auto factory, whether in São Paulo, Kentucky, or Vladivostok, occupies a subordinate position in the global economy subordinated to the high-value production of services. Today all economic activity tends to come under the dominance of the informational economy and to be qualitatively transformed by it. The geographical differences in the global economy are not signs of the co-presence of different stages of development but lines of the new global hierarchy of production.
It is becoming increasingly clear from the perspective of subordinated regions that modernisation is no longer the key to economic advancement and competition. The most subordinated regions, such as areas of sub-Saharan Africa, are effectively excluded from capital flows and new technologies, and they thus find themselves on the verge of starvation.” Competition for the middle-level positions in the global hierarchy is conducted not through the industrialisation but through the informatisation of production. Large countries with varied economies, such as India and Brazil, can support simultaneously all levels of productive processes: information-based production of services, modern industrial production of goods, and traditional handicraft, agricultural, and mining production. There does not need to be an orderly historical progression among these forms, but rather they mix and coexist. All of the forms of production exist within the networks of the world market and under the domination of the informational production of services.
The transformations of the Italian economy since the 1950s demonstrate clearly that relatively backward economies do not simply follow the same stages the dominant regions experience, but evolve through alternative and mixed patterns. After World War II, Italy was still a predominantly peasant-based society, but in the 1950s and 1960s it went through furious if incomplete modernisation and industrialisation, a first economic miracle. Then, however, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the processes of industrialisation were still not complete, the Italian economy embarked on another transformation, a process of postmodernisation, and achieved a second economic miracle. These Italian miracles were not really leaps forward that allowed it to catch up with the dominant economies; rather, they represented mixtures of different incomplete economic forms. What is most significant here, and what might usefully pose the Italian case as the general model for all other backward economies, is that the Italian economy did not complete one stage (industrialisation) before moving on to another (informatisation). According to two contemporary economists, the recent Italian transformation reveals “an interesting transition from proto-industrialism to proto-informationalism.” Various regions will evolve to have peasant elements mixed with partial industrialisation and partial informatisation. The economic stages are thus all present at once, merged into a hybrid, composite economy that varies not in kind but in degree across the globe.
Just as modernisation did in a previous era, postmodernisation or informatisation today marks a. new mode of becoming human. Where the production of soul is concerned, as Musil would say, one really ought to replace the traditional techniques of industrial machines with the cybernetic intelligence of information and communication technologies. We must invent what Pierre Levy calls an anthropology of cyberspace. This shift of metaphors gives us a first glimpse of the transformation, but we need to look more closely to see clearly the changes in our notion of the human and in humanity itself that emerge in the passage toward an informational economy.
The Sociology of Immaterial Labour
The passage toward an informational economy necessarily involves a change in the quality and nature of labour. This is the most immediate sociological and anthropological implication of the passage of economic paradigms. Today information and communication have come to play a foundational role in production processes.
A first aspect of this transformation is recognised by many in terms of the change in factory labour — using the auto industry as a central point of reference — from the Fordist model to the Toyotist model. The primary structural change between these models involves the system of communication between the production and the consumption of commodities, that is, the passage of information between the factory and the market. The Fordist model constructed a relatively “mute” relationship between production and consumption. The mass production of standardised commodities in the Fordist era could count on an adequate demand and thus had little need to “listen” to the market. A feedback circuit from consumption to production did allow changes in the market to spur changes in productive engineering, but this communication circuit was restricted (owing to the fixed and compartmentalised channels of planning and design structures) and slow (owing to the rigidity of the technologies and procedures of mass production).
Toyotism is based on an inversion of the Fordist structure of communication between production and consumption. Ideally, according to this model, production planning will communicate with markets constantly and immediately. Factories will maintain zero stock, and commodities will be produced just in time according to the present demand of the existing markets. This model thus involves not simply a more rapid feedback loop but an inversion of the relationship because, at least in theory, the production decision actually comes after and in reaction to the market decision. In the most extreme cases the commodity is not produced until the consumer has already chosen and purchased it. In general, however, it would be more accurate to conceive the model as striving toward a continual interactivity or rapid communication between production and consumption. This industrial context provides a first sense in which communication and information have come to play a newly central role in production. One might say that instrumental action and communicative action have become intimately interwoven in the informationalised industrial process, but one should quickly add that this is an impoverished notion of communication as the mere transmission of market data.
The service sectors of the economy present a richer model of productive communication. Most services indeed are based on the continual exchange of information and knowledges. Since the production of services results in no material and durable good, we define the labour involved in this production as immaterial labour — that is, labour that produces an immaterial good, such as a service, a cultural product, knowledge, or communication.” One face of immaterial labour can be recognised in analogy to the functioning of a computer. The increasingly extensive use of computers has tended progressively to redefine labouring practices and relations, along with, indeed, all social practices and relations. Familiarity and facility with computer technology is becoming an increasingly general primary qualification for work in the dominant countries. Even when direct contact with computers is not involved, the manipulation of symbols and information along the model of computer operation is extremely widespread. In an earlier era workers learned how to act like machines both inside and outside the factory. We even learned (with the help of Muybridge’s photos, for example) to recognise human activity in general as mechanical. Today we increasingly think like computers, while communication technologies and their model of interaction are becoming more and more central to labouring activities. One novel aspect of the computer is that it can continually modify its own operation through its use. Even the most rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence allow the computer to expand and perfect its operation based on its interaction with its user and its environment. The same kind of continual interactivity characterises a wide range of contemporary productive activities, whether computer hardware is directly involved or not. The computer and communication revolution of production has transformed labouring practices in such a way that they all tend toward the model of information and communication technologies. Interactive and cybernetic machines become a new prosthesis integrated into our bodies and minds and a lens through which to redefine our bodies and minds themselves. The anthropology of cyberspace is really a recognition of the new human condition.
Robert Reich calls the kind of immaterial labour involved in computer and communication work “symbolic-analytical services-tasks that involve “problem-solving, problem-identifying, and strategic brokering activities.” This type of labour claims the highest value, and thus Reich identifies it as the key to competition in the new global economy. He recognises, however, that the growth of these knowledge-based jobs of creative symbolic manipulation implies a corresponding growth of low-value and low-skill jobs of routine symbol manipulation, such as data entry and word processing. Here begins to emerge a fundamental division of labour within the realm of immaterial production.
We should note that one consequence of the informatisation of production and the emergence of immaterial labour has been a real homogenisation of labouring processes. From Marx’s perspective in the nineteenth century, the concrete practices of various labouring activities were radically heterogeneous: tailoring and weaving involved incommensurable concrete actions. Only when abstracted from their concrete practices could different labouring activities be brought together and seen in a homogeneous way, no longer as long and weaving but as the expenditure of human labour power taken in general, as abstract labour. With the computerisation of production today, however, the heterogeneity of concrete labour has tended to be reduced, and the worker is increasingly further removed from the object of his or her labour. The labour of computerised tailoring and the labour of computerised weaving may involve exactly the same concrete practices — that is, manipulation of symbols and information. Tools, of course, have always abstracted labour power from the object of labour to a certain degree. In previous periods, however, the tools generally were related in a relatively inflexible way to certain tasks or certain groups of tasks; different tools corresponded to different activities — the tailor’s tools, the weaver’s tools, or later a sewing machine and a power loom. The computer proposes itself, in contrast, as the universal tool, or rather as the central tool, through which all activities might pass. Through the computerisation of production, then, labour tends toward the position of abstract labour.
The model of the computer, however, can account for only one face of the communicational and immaterial labour involved in the production of services. The other face of immaterial labour is the affective labour of human contact and interaction. Health services, for example, rely centrally on caring and affective labour, and the entertainment industry is likewise focused on the creation and manipulation of affect. This labour is immaterial, even if it is corporeal and affective, in the sense that its products are intangible, a feeling of ease, well-being, satisfaction, excitement, or passion. Categories such as “in-person services” or services of proximity are often used to identify this kind of labour, but what is really essential to it are the creation and manipulation of affect. Such affective production, exchange, and communication are generally associated with human contact, but that contact can be either actual or virtual, as it is in the entertainment industry.
This second face of immaterial labour, its affective face, extends well beyond the model of intelligence and communication defined by the computer. Affective labour is better understood by beginning from what feminist analyses of “women’s work” have called “labour in the bodily mode.” Caring labour is certainly entirely immersed in the corporeal, the somatic, but the affects it produces are nonetheless immaterial. What affective labour produces are social networks, forms of community, biopower. Here one might recognise once again that the instrumental action of economic production has been united with the communicative action of human relations; in this case, however, communication has not been impoverished, but production has been enriched to the level of complexity of human interaction.
In short, we can distinguish three types of immaterial labour that drive the service sector at the top of the informational economy. The first is involved in an industrial production that has been informationalised and has incorporated communication technologies in a way that transforms the production process itself Manufacturing is regarded as a service, and the material labour of the production of durable goods mixes with and tends toward immaterial labour. Second is the immaterial labour of analytical and symbolic tasks, which itself breaks down into creative and intelligent manipulation on the one hand and routine symbolic tasks on the other. Finally, a third type of immaterial labour involves the production and manipulation of affect and requires (virtual or actual) human contact, labour in the bodily mode. These are the three types of labour that drive the postmodernisation of the global economy.
We should point out before moving on that in each of these forms of immaterial labour, cooperation is completely inherent in the labour itself. Immaterial labour immediately involves social interaction and cooperation. In other words, the cooperative aspect of immaterial labour is not imposed or organised from the outside, as it was in previous forms of labour, but rather, cooperation is completely immanent to the labouring activity itself. This fact calls into question the old notion (common to classical and Marxian political economics) by which labour power is conceived as “variable capital,” that is, a force that is activated and made coherent only by capital, because the cooperative powers of labour power (particularly immaterial labour power) afford labour the possibility of valorising itself. Brains and bodies still need others to produce value, but the others they need are not necessarily provided by capital and its capacities to orchestrate production. Today productivity, wealth, and the creation of social surpluses take the form of cooperative interactivity through linguistic, communicational, and affective networks. In the expression of its own creative energies, immaterial labour thus seems to provide the potential for a kind of spontaneous and elementary communism.
The first geographical consequence of the passage from an industrial to an informational economy is a dramatic decentralisation of production. The processes of modernisation and the passage to the industrial paradigm provoked the intense aggregation of productive forces and mass migrations of labour power toward centres that became factory cities, such as Manchester, Osaka, and Detroit. Efficiency of mass industrial production depended on the concentration and proximity of elements in order to create the factory site and facilitate transportation and communication. The informatisation of industry and the rising dominance of service production, however, have made such concentration of production no longer necessary. Size and efficiency are no longer linearly related; in fact, large scale has in many cases become a hindrance. Advances in telecommunications and information technologies have made possible a deterritorialisation of production that has effectively dispersed the mass factories and evacuated the factory cities. Communication and control can be exercised efficiently at a distance, and in some cases immaterial products can be transported across the world with minimal delay and expense. Several different production facilities can be coordinated in the simultaneous production of a single commodity in such a way that factories can be dispersed to various locations. In some sectors even the factory site itself can be done away with as its workers communicate exclusively through new information technologies.
In the passage to the informational economy, the assembly line has been replaced by the network as the organisational model of production, transforming the forms of cooperation and communication within each productive site and among productive sites. The mass industrial factory defined the circuits of labouring cooperation primarily through the physical deployments of workers on the shop floor. Individual workers communicated with their neighbouring workers, and communication was generally limited to physical proximity. Cooperation among productive sites also required physical proximity both to coordinate the productive cycles and to minimise the transportation costs and time of the commodities being produced. For example, the distance between the coal mine and the steel mill, and the efficiency of the lines of transportation and communication between them, are significant factors in the overall efficiency of steel production. Similarly, for automobile production the efficiency of communication and transportation among the series of subcontractors involved is crucial in the overall efficiency of the system. The passage toward informational production and the network structure of organisation, in contrast, make productive cooperation and efficiency no longer dependent to such a degree on proximity and centralisation. Information technologies tend to make distances less relevant. Workers involved in a single process can effectively communicate and cooperate from remote locations without consideration to proximity. In effect, the network of labouring cooperation requires no territorial or physical center.
The tendency toward the deterritorialisation of production is even more pronounced in the processes of immaterial labour that involve the manipulation of knowledge and information. Labouring processes can be conducted in a form almost entirely compatible with communication networks, for which location and distance have very limited importance. Workers can even stay at home and log on to the network. The labour of informational production (of both services and durable goods) relies on what we can call abstract cooperation. Such labour dedicates an ever more central role to communication of knowledges and information among workers, but those cooperating workers need not be present and can even be relatively unknown to one another, or known only through the productive information exchanged. The circuit of cooperation is consolidated in the network and the commodity at an abstract level. Production sites can thus be deterritorialised and tend toward a virtual existence, as coordinates in the communication network. As opposed to the old vertical industrial and corporate model, production now tends to be organised in horizontal network enterprises.
The information networks also release production from territorial constraints insofar as they tend to put the producer in direct contact with the consumer regardless of the distance between them. Bill Gates, the co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, takes this tendency to an extreme when he predicts a future in which networks will overcome entirely the barriers to circulation and allow an ideal, “friction-free” capitalism to emerge: “The information highway will extend the electronic marketplace and make it the ultimate go-between, the universal middleman.” If Gates’s vision were to be realised, the networks would tend to reduce all distance and make transactions immediate. Sites of production and sites of consumption would then be present to one another, regardless of geographical location.
These tendencies toward the deterritorialisation of production and the increased mobility of capital are not absolute, and there are significant countervailing tendencies, but to the extent that they do proceed, they place labour in a weakened bargaining position. In the era of the Fordist organisation of industrial mass production, capital was bound to a specific territory and thus to dealing contractually with a limited labouring population. The informatisation o production and the increasing importance of immaterial production have tended to free capital from the constraints of territory and bargaining. Capital can withdraw from negotiation with a given local population by moving its site to another point in the global network — or merely by using the potential to move as a weapon in negotiations. Entire labouring populations, which had enjoyed a certain stability and contractual power, have thus found themselves in increasingly precarious employment situations. Once the bargaining position of labour has been weakened, network production can accommodate various old forms of non-guaranteed labour, such as freelance work, home work, part-time labour, and piecework.
The decentralisation and global dispersal of productive processes and sites, which is characteristic of the postmodernisation or informatisation of the economy, provokes a corresponding centralisation of the control over production. The centrifugal movement of production is balanced by the centripetal trend of command. From the local perspective, the computer networks and communications technologies internal to production systems allow for more extensive monitoring of workers from a central, remote location. Control of labouring activity can potentially be individualised and continuous in the virtual panopticon of network production. The centralisation of control, however, is even more clear from a global perspective. The geographical dispersal of manufacturing has created a demand for increasingly centralised management and planning, and also for a new centralisation of specialised producer services, especially financial services.” Financial and trade-related services in a few key cities (such as New York, London, and Tokyo) manage and direct the global networks of production. As a mass demographic shift, then, the decline and evacuation of industrial cities has corresponded to the rise of global cities, or really cities of control.
The structure and management of communication networks are essential conditions for production in the informational economy.
These global networks must be constructed and policed in such a way as to guarantee order and profits. It should come as no surprise, then, that the U.S. government poses the establishment and regulation of a global information infrastructure as one of its highest priorities, and that communications networks have become the most active terrain of mergers and competition for the most powerful transnational corporations.
An adviser to the Federal Communications Commission, Peter Cowhey, provides an interesting analogy for the role these networks play in the new paradigm of production and power. The construction of the new information infrastructure, he says, provides the conditions and terms of global production and government just as road construction did for the Roman Empire. The wide distribution of Roman engineering and technology was indeed both the most lasting gift to the imperial territories and the fundamental condition for exercising control over them. Roman roads, however, did not play a central role in the imperial production processes but only facilitated the circulation of goods and technologies. Perhaps a better analogy for the global information infrastructure might be the construction of railways to further the interests of nineteenth-and twentieth-century imperialist economies. Railways in the dominant countries consolidated their national industrial economies, and the construction of railroads in colonised and economically dominated regions opened those territories to penetration by capitalist enterprises, allowing for their incorporation into imperialist economic systems. Like Roman roads, however, railways played only an external role in imperialist and industrial production, extending its lines of communication and transportation to new raw materials, markets, and labour power. The novelty of the new information infrastructure is the fact that it is embedded within and completely immanent to the new production processes. At the pinnacle of contemporary production, information and communication are the very commodities produced; the network itself is the site of both production and circulation.
In political terms, the global information infrastructure might be characterised as the combination of a democratic mechanism and an oligopolistic mechanism, which operate along different models of network systems. The democratic network is a completely horizontal and deterritorialised model. The Internet, which began as a project of DARPA (the U.S. Defense Department Advanced Research Projects Agency), but has now expanded to points throughout the world, is the prime example of this democratic network structure. An indeterminate and potentially unlimited number of interconnected nodes communicate with no central point of control; all nodes regardless of territorial location connect to all others through a myriad of potential paths and relays. The Internet thus resembles the structure of telephone networks, and indeed it generally incorporates them as its own paths of communication, just as it relies on computer technology for its points of communication. The development of cellular telephony and portable computers, unmooring in an even more radical way the communicating points in the network, has intensified the process of deterritorialisation. The original design of the Internet was intended to withstand military attack. Since it has no center and almost any portion can operate as an autonomous whole, the network can continue to function even when part of it has been destroyed. The same design element that ensures survival, the decentralisation, is also what makes control of the network so difficult. Since no one point in the network is necessary for communication among others, it is difficult for it to regulate or prohibit their communication. This democratic model is what Deleuze and Guattari call a rhizome, a non-hierarchical and non-centred network structure. 29
The oligopolistic network model is characterised by broadcast systems. According to this model, for example in television or radio systems, there is a unique and relatively fixed point of emission, but the points of reception are potentially infinite and territorially indefinite, although developments such as cable television networks fix these paths to a certain extent. The broadcast network is defined by its centralised production, mass distribution, and one-way communication. The entire culture industry — from the distribution of newspapers and books to films and video cassettes — has traditionally operated along this model. A relatively small number of corporations (or in some regions a single entrepreneur, such as Rupert Murdoch, Silvio Berlusconi, or Ted Turner) can effectively dominate all of these networks. This oligopolistic model is not a rhizome but a tree structure that subordinates all of the branches to the central root.
The networks of the new information infrastructure are a hybrid of these two models. just as in a previous era Lenin and other critics of imperialism recognised a consolidation of international corporations into quasi-monopolies (over railways, banking, electric power, and the like), today we are witnessing a competition among transnational corporations to establish and consolidate quasi-monopolies over the new information infrastructure. The various telecommunication corporations, computer hardware and software manufacturers, and information and entertainment corporations are merging and expanding their operations, scrambling to partition and control the new continents of productive networks. There will, of course, remain democratic portions or aspects of this consolidated web that will resist control owing to the web’s interactive and decentralised structure; but there is already under way a massive centralisation of control through the (de facto or de jure) unification of the major elements of the information and communication power structure: Hollywood, Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, and so forth. The new communication technologies, which hold out the promise of a new democracy and a new social equality, have in fact created new lines of inequality and exclusion, both within the dominant countries and especially outside them.
There has been a continuous movement throughout the modern period to privatise public property. In Europe the great common lands created with the break-up of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity were eventually transferred to private hands in the course of capitalist primitive accumulation. Throughout the world what remains of the vast public spaces are now only the stuff of legends: Robin Hood’s forest, the Great Plains of the Amerindians, the steppes of the nomadic tribes, and so forth. During the consolidation of industrial society, the construction and destruction of public spaces developed in an ever more powerful spiral. It is true that when it was dictated by the necessities of accumulation (in order to foster an acceleration or leap in development, to concentrate and mobilise the means of production, to make war, and so forth), public property was expanded by expropriating large sectors of civil society and transferring wealth and property to the collectivity. That public property, however, was soon reappropriated in private hands. In each process the communal possession, which is considered natural, is transformed at public expense into a second and third nature that functions finally for private profit. A second nature was created, for example, by damming the great rivers of western North America and irrigating the dry valleys, and then this new wealth was handed over to the magnates of agribusiness. Capitalism sets in motion a continuous cycle of private reappropriation of public goods: the expropriation of what is common.
The rise and fall of the welfare state in the twentieth century is one more cycle in this spiral of public and private appropriations. The crisis of the welfare state has meant primarily that the structures o public assistance and distribution, which were constructed through public funds, are being privatised and expropriated for private gain. The current neoliberal trend toward the privatisation of energy and communication services is another turn of the spiral. This consists in granting to private businesses the networks of energy and communication that were built through enormous expenditures of public monies. Market regimes and neoliberalism survive off these private appropriations of second, third, and nth nature. The commons, which once were considered the basis of the concept of the public, are expropriated for private use and no one can lift a finger. The public is thus dissolved, privatised, even as a concept. Or really, the immanent relation between the public and the common is replaced by the transcendent power of private property.
We do not intend here to weep over the destruction and expropriation that capitalism continually operates across the world, even though resisting its force (and in particular resisting the expropriation of the welfare state) is certainly an eminently ethical and important task. We want to ask, rather, what is the operative notion of the common today, in the midst of postmodernity, the information revolution, and the consequent transformations of the mode of production. It seems to us, in fact, that today we participate in a more radical and profound commonality than has ever been experienced in the history of capitalism. The fact is that we participate in a productive world made up of communication and social networks, interactive services, and common languages. Our economic and social reality is defined less by the material objects that are made and consumed than by co-produced services and relationships. Producing increasingly means constructing cooperation and communicative commonalities.
The concept of private property itself, understood as the exclusive right to use a good and dispose of all wealth that derives from the possession of it, becomes increasingly nonsensical in this new situation. There are ever fewer goods that can be possessed and used exclusively in this framework; it is the community that produces and that, while producing, is reproduced and redefined. The foundation of the classic modern conception of private property is thus to a certain extent dissolved in the postmodern mode of production.
One should object, however, that this new social condition of production has not at all weakened the juridical and political regimes of private property. The conceptual crisis of private property does not become a crisis in practice, and instead the regime of private expropriation has tended to be applied universally. This objection would be valid if not for the fact that, in the context of linguistic and cooperative production, labour and the common property tend to overlap. Private property, despite its juridical powers, cannot help becoming an ever more abstract and transcendental concept and thus ever more detached from reality.
A new notion of “commons” will have to emerge on this terrain. Deleuze and Guattari claim in What Is Philosophy? that in the contemporary era, and in the context of communicative and interactive production, the construction of concepts is not only an epistemological operation but equally an ontological project. Constructing concepts and what they call “common names” is really an activity that combines the intelligence and the action of the multitude, making them work together. Constructing concepts means making exist in reality a project that is a community. There is no other way to construct concepts but to work in a common way. This commonality is, from the standpoint of the phenomenology of production, from the standpoint of the epistemology of the concept, and from the standpoint of practice, a project in which the multitude is completely invested. The commons is the incarnation, the production, and the liberation of the multitude. Rousseau said that the first person who wanted a piece of nature as his or her own exclusive possession and transformed it into the transcendent form of private property was the one who invented evil. Good, on the contrary, is what is common.
In speaking of "Mathematical logic", I use this word in a very broad sense. By it I understand the works of Cantor on transfinite numbers as well as the logical work of Frege and Peano. Weierstrass and his successors have "arithmetised" mathematics; that is to say, they have reduced the whole of analysis to the study of integer numbers. The accomplishment of this reduction indicated the completion of a very important stage, at the end of which the spirit of dissection might well be allowed a short rest. However, the theory of integer numbers cannot be constituted in an autonomous manner, especially when we take into account the likeness in properties of the finite and infinite numbers. It was, then, necessary to go farther and reduce arithmetic, and above all the definition of numbers, to logic. By the name "mathematical logic", then, I will denote any logical theory whose object is the analysis and deduction of arithmetic and geometry by means of concepts which belong evidently to logic. It is this modern tendency that I intend to discuss here.
In an examination of the work done by mathematical logic, we may consider either the mathematical results, the method of mathematical reasoning as revealed by modern work, or the intrinsic nature of mathematical propositions according to the analysis which mathematical logic makes of them. It is impossible to distinguish exactly these three aspects of the subject, but there is enough of a distinction to serve the purpose of a framework for discussion. It might be thought that the inverse order would be the best; that we ought first to consider what a mathematical proposition is, then the method by which such propositions are demonstrated, and finally the results to which this method leads us. But the problem which we have to resolve, like every truly philosophical problem, is a problem of analysis; and in problems of analysis the best method is that which sets out from results and arrives at the premises. In mathematical logic it is the conclusions which have the greatest degree of certainty: the nearer we get to the ultimate premises the more uncertainty and difficulty do we find.
From the philosophical point of view, the most brilliant results of the new method are the exact theories which we have been able to form about infinity and continuity. We know that when we have to do with infinite collections, for example the collection of finite integer numbers, it is possible to establish a one-to-one correspondence between the whole collection and a part of itself. For example, there is such a correspondence between the finite integers and the even numbers, since the relation of a finite number to its double is one-to-one. Thus it is evident that the number of an infinite collection is equal to the number of a part of this collection. It was formerly believed that this was a contradiction; even Leibnitz, although he was a partisan of the actual infinite, denied infinite number because of this supposed contradiction. But to demonstrate that there is a contradiction we must suppose that all numbers obey mathematical induction. To explain mathematical induction, let us call by the name "hereditary property" of a number a property which belongs to n + 1 whenever it belongs to n. Such is, for example, the property of being greater than 100. If a number is greater than 100, the next number after it is greater than 100. Let us call by the name "inductive property" of a number a hereditary property which is possessed by the number zero. Such a property must belong to 1, since it is hereditary and belongs to 0; in the same way, it must belong to 2, since it belongs to 1; and so on. Consequently the numbers of daily life possess every inductive property. Now, amongst the inductive properties of numbers is found the following. If any collection has the number n, no part of this collection can have the same number n. Consequently, if all numbers possess all inductive properties, there is a contradiction with the result that there are collections which have the same number as a part of themselves. This contradiction, however, ceases to subsist as soon as we admit that there are numbers which do not possess all inductive properties. And then it appears that there is no contradiction in infinite number. Cantor has even created a whole arithmetic of infinite numbers, and by means of this arithmetic he has completely resolved the former problems on the nature of the infinite which have disturbed philosophy since ancient times.
The problems of the continuum are closely connected with the problems of the infinite and their solution is effected by the same means. The paradoxes of Zeno the Eleatic and the difficulties in the analysis of space, of time, and of motion, are all completely explained by means of the modern theory of continuity. This is because a non-contradictory theory has been found, according to which the continuum is composed of an infinity of distinct elements; and this formerly appeared impossible. The elements cannot all be reached by continual dichotomy; but it does not follow that these elements do not exist.
From this follows a complete revolution in the philosophy of space and time. The realist theories which were believed to be contradictory are so no longer, and the idealist theories have lost any excuse there might have been for their existence. The flux, which was believed to be incapable of analysis into indivisible elements, shows itself to be capable of mathematical analysis, and our reason shows itself to be capable of giving an explanation of the physical world and of the sensible world without supposing jumps where there is continuity, and also without giving up the analysis into separate and indivisible elements.
The mathematical theory of motion and other continuous changes uses, besides the theories of infinite number and of the nature of the continuum, two correlative notions, that of a function and that of a variable. The importance of these ideas may be shown by an example. We still find in books of philosophy a statement of the law of causality in the form: "When the same cause happens again, the same effect will also happen." But it might be very justly remarked that the same cause never happens again. What actually takes place is that there is a constant relation between causes of a certain kind and the effects which result from them. Wherever there is such a constant relation, the effect is a function of the cause. By means of the constant relation we sum up in a single formula an infinity of causes and effects, and we avoid the worn-out hypothesis of the repetition of the same cause. It is the idea of functionality, that is to say the idea of constant relation, which gives the secret of the power of mathematics to deal simultaneously with an infinity of data.
To understand the part played by the idea of a function in mathematics, we must first of all understand the method of mathematical deduction. It will be admitted that mathematical demonstrations, even those which are performed by what is called mathematical induction, are always deductive. Now, in a deduction it almost always happens that the validity of the deduction does not depend on the subject spoken about, but only on the form of what is said about it. Take for example the classical argument: All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal. Here it is evident that what is said remains true if Plato or Aristotle or anybody else is substituted for Socrates. We can, then, say: If all men are mortal, and if x is a man, then x is mortal. This is a first generalisation of the proposition from which we set out. But it is easy to go farther. In the deduction which has been stated, nothing depends on the fact that it is men and mortals which occupy our attention. If all the members of any class a are members of a class s, and if x is a member of the class a, then x is a member of the class s. In this statement, we have the pure logical form which underlies all the deductions of the same form as that which proves that Socrates is mortal. To obtain a proposition of pure mathematics (or of mathematical logic, which is the same thing), we must submit a deduction of any kind to a process analogous to that which we have just performed, that is to say, when an argument remains valid if one of its terms is changed, this term must be replaced by a variable, i.e. by an indeterminate object. In this way we finally reach a proposition of pure logic, that is to say a proposition which does not contain any other constant than logical constants. The definition of the logical constants is not easy, but this much may be said: A constant is logical if the propositions in which it is found still contain it when we try to replace it by a variable. More exactly, we may perhaps characterise the logical constants in the following manner: If we take any deduction and replace its terms by variables, it will happen, after a certain number of stages, that the constants which still remain in the deduction belong to a certain group, and, if we try to push generalisation still farther, there will always remain constants which belong to this same group. 'This group is the group of logical constants. The logical constants are those which constitute pure form; a formal proposition is a proposition which does not contain any other constants than logical constants. We have just reduced the deduction which proves that Socrates is mortal to the following form: "If x is an a, then, if all the members of a are members of b, it follows that x is a b." The constants here are: is-a, all, and if-then. These are logical constants and evidently they are purely formal concepts.
Now, the validity of any valid deduction depends on its form, and its form is obtained by replacing the terms of the deduction by variables, until there do not remain any other constants than those of- logic. And conversely: every valid deduction can be obtained by starting from a deduction which operates on variables by means of logical constants, by attributing to variables definite values with which the hypothesis becomes true.
By means of this operation of generalisation, we separate the strictly deductive element in an argument from the element which depends on the particularity of what is spoken about. Pure mathematics concerns itself exclusively with the deductive element. We obtain propositions of pure mathematics by a process of purification. If I say: "Here are two things, and here are two other things, therefore here arc four things in all", I do not state a proposition of pure mathematics because here particular data come into question. The proposition that I have stated is an application of the general proposition: "Given any two things and also any two other things, there are four things in all." 'The latter proposition is a proposition of pure mathematics, while the former is a proposition of applied mathematics.
It is obvious that what depends on the particularity of the subject is the verification of the hypothesis, and this permits us to assert, not merely that the hypothesis implies the thesis, but that, since the hypothesis is true, the thesis is true also. This assertion is not made in pure mathematics. Here we content ourselves with the hypothetical form: It- any subject satisfies such and such a hypothesis, it will also satisfy such and such a thesis. It is thus that pure mathematics becomes entirely hypothetical, and concerns itself exclusively with any indeterminate subject, that is to say with a variable. Any valid deduction finds its form in a hypothetical proposition belonging to pure mathematics; but in pure mathematics itself we affirm neither the hypothesis nor the thesis, unless both can be expressed in terms of logical constants.
If it is asked why it is worth while to reduce deductions to such a form, I reply that there are two associated reasons for this. In the first place, it is a good thing to generalise any truth as much as possible; and, in the second place, an economy of work is brought about by making the deduction with an indeterminate x. When we reason al-out Socrates, we obtain results which apply only to Socrates, so that, if we wish to know something about Plato, we have to perform the reasoning all over again. But when we operate on x, we obtain results which we know to be valid for every x which satisfies the hypothesis. The usual scientific motives of economy and generalisation lead us, then, to the theory of mathematical method which has just been sketched.
After what has just been said it is easy to see what must be thought about the intrinsic nature of propositions of pure mathematics. In pure mathematics we have never to discuss facts that are applicable to such and such an individual object; we need never know anything about the actual world. We are concerned exclusively with variables, that is to say, with any subject, about which hypotheses are made which may be fulfilled sometimes, but whose verification for such and such an object is only necessary for the importance of the deductions, and not for their truth. At first sight it might appear that everything would be arbitrary in such a science. But this is not so. It is necessary that the hypothesis truly implies the thesis. If we make the hypothesis that the hypothesis implies the thesis, we can only make deductions in the case when this new hypothesis truly implies the new thesis. Implication is a logical constant and cannot be dispensed with. Consequently we need true propositions about implication. If we took as premises propositions on implication which were not true, the consequences which would appear to flow from them would not be truly implied by the premises, so that we would not obtain even a hypothetical proof. This necessity for true premises emphasises a distinction of the first importance, that is to say the distinction between a premise and a hypothesis. When we say "Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal", the proposition "Socrates is a man" is a premise; but when we say: "If Socrates is a man, then Socrates is mortal", the proposition "Socrates is a man" is only a hypothesis. Similarly when I say: "If from p we deduce q and from q we deduce r, then from p we deduce r", the proposition "From p we deduce q and from q we deduce r" is a hypothesis, but the whole proposition is not a hypothesis, since I affirm it, and, in fact, it is true. This proposition is a rule of deduction, and the rules of deduction have a two-fold use in mathematics: both as premises and as a method of obtaining consequences of the premises. Now, if the rules of deduction were not true, the consequences that would be obtained by using them would not truly be consequences, so that we should not have even a correct deduction setting out from a false premise. It is this twofold use of the rules of deduction which differentiates the foundations of mathematics from the later parts. In the later parts, we use the same rules of deduction to deduce, but we no longer use them immediately as premises. Consequently, in the later parts, the immediate premises may be false without the deductions being logically incorrect, but, in the foundations, the deductions will be incorrect if the premises are not true. It is necessary to be clear about this point, for otherwise the part of arbitrariness and of hypothesis might appear greater than it is in reality.
Mathematics, therefore, is wholly composed of propositions which only contain variables and logical constants, that is to say, purely formal propositions-for the logical constants are those which constitute form. It is remarkable that we have the power of knowing such propositions. The consequences of the analysis of mathematical knowledge are not without interest for the theory of knowledge. In the first place it is to be remarked, in opposition to empirical theories, that mathematical knowledge needs premises which are not based on the data of sense. Every general proposition goes beyond the limits of knowledge obtained through the senses, which is wholly restricted to what is individual. If we say that the extension of the given case to the general is effected by means of induction, we are forced to admit that induction itself is not proved by means of experience. Whatever may be the exact formulation of the fundamental principle of induction, it is evident that in the first place this principle is general, and in the second place that it cannot, without a vicious circle, be itself demonstrated by induction.
It is to be supposed that the principle of induction can be formulated more or less in the following way. If we are given the fact that any two properties occur together in a certain number of cases, it is more probable that a new case which possesses one of these properties will possess the other than it would be if we had not such a datum. I do not say that this is a satisfactory formulation of the principle of induction; I only say that the principle of induction must be like this in so far as it must be an absolutely general principle which contains the notion of probability. Now it is evident that sense-experience cannot demonstrate such a principle, and cannot even make it probable; for it is only in virtue of the principle itself that the fact that it has often been successful gives grounds for the belief that it will probably be successful in the future. Hence inductive knowledge, like all knowledge which is obtained by reasoning, needs logical principles which are a priori and universal. By formulating the principle of induction, we transform every induction into a deduction; induction is nothing else than a deduction which uses a certain premise, namely the principle of induction.
In so far as it is primitive and undemonstrated, human knowledge is thus divided into two kinds: knowledge of particular facts, which alone allows us to affirm existence, and knowledge of logical truth, which alone allows us to reason about data. In science and in daily life the two kinds of knowledge are intermixed: the propositions which are affirmed are obtained from particular premises by means of logical principles. In pure perception we only find knowledge of particular facts: in pure mathematics, we only find knowledge of logical truths. In order that such a knowledge be possible, it is necessary that there should be self-evident logical truths, that is to say, truths which are known without demonstration. These are the truths which are the premises of pure mathematics as well as of the deductive elements in every demonstration on any subject whatever.
It is, then, possible to make assertions, not only about cases which we have been able to observe, but about all actual or possible cases. The existence of assertions of this kind and their necessity for almost all pieces of knowledge which are said to be founded on experience shows that traditional empiricism is in error and that there is a priori and universal knowledge.
In spite of the fact that traditional empiricism is mistaken in its theory of knowledge, it must not be supposed that idealism is right. Idealism at least every theory of knowledge which is derived from Kant-assumes that the universality of a priori truths comes from their property of expressing properties of the mind: I things appear to be thus because the nature of the appearance depends on the subject in the same way that, if we have blue spectacles, everything appears to be blue. The categories of Kant are the coloured spectacles of the mind; truths a priori are the false appearances produced by those spectacles. Besides, we must know that everybody has spectacles of the same kind and that the colour of the spectacles never changes. Kant did not deign to tell us how he knew this.
As soon as we take into account the consequences of Kant's hypothesis, it becomes evident that general and a priori truths must have the same objectivity, the same independence of the mind, that the particular facts of the physical world possess. In fact, if general truths only express psychological facts, we could not know that they would be constant from moment to moment or from person to person, and we could never use them legitimately to deduce a fact from another fact, since they would not connect facts but our ideas about the facts. Logic and mathematics force us, then, to admit a kind of realism in the scholastic sense, that is to say, to admit that there is a world of universals and of truths which do not bear directly on such and such a particular existence. This world of universals must subsist, although it cannot exist in the same sense as that in which particular data exist. We have immediate knowledge of an indefinite number of propositions about universals: this is an ultimate fact, as ultimate as sensation is. Pure mathematics-which is usually called "logic" in its elementary parts-is the sum of everything that we can know, whether directly or by demonstration, about certain universals.
On the subject of self-evident truths it is necessary to avoid a misunderstanding. Self-evidence is a psychological property and is therefore subjective and variable. It is essential to knowledge, since all knowledge must be either self-evident or deduced from self-evident knowledge. But the order of knowledge which is obtained by starting from what is self-evident is not the same thing as the order of logical deduction, and we must not suppose that when we give such and such premises for a deductive system, we are of opinion that these premises constitute what is self-evident in the system. In the first place self-evidence has degrees: It is quite possible that the consequences are more evident than the premises. In the second place it may happen that we are certain of the truth of many of the consequences, but that the premises only appear probable, and that their probability is due to the fact that true consequences flow from them. In such a case, what we can be certain of is that the premises imply all the true consequences that it was wished to place in the deductive system. This remark has an application to the foundations of mathematics, since many of the ultimate premises are intrinsically less evident than many of the consequences which are deduced from them. Besides, if we lay too much stress on the self-evidence of the premises of a deductive system, we may be led to mistake the part played by intuition (not spatial but logical) in mathematics. The question of the part of logical intuition is a psychological question and it is not necessary, when constructing a deductive system, to have an opinion on it.
To sum up, we have seen, in the first place, that mathematical logic has resolved the problems of infinity and continuity, and that it has made possible a solid philosophy of space, time, and motion. In the second place, we have seen that pure mathematics can be defined as the class of propositions which are expressed exclusively in terms of variables and logical constants, that is to say as the class of purely formal propositions. In the third place, we have seen that the possibility of mathematical knowledge refutes both empiricism and idealism, since it shows that human knowledge is not wholly deduced from facts of sense, but that a priori knowledge can by no means be explained in a subjective or psychological manner.
I may claim that the contents of the preceding chapters are natural science: the recorded facts are verified, as far as it is possible to say of the results of a science as young as comparative ethology. Now, however, we leave the record of facts elicited by observations and experiments on the aggressive behaviour of animals and turn to the question of whether they can teach us something applicable to man and useful in circumventing the dangers arising from his aggressive drives.
There are people who see in this question an insult to human dignity. All too willingly man sees himself as the centre of the universe, as something not belonging to the rest of nature but standing apart as a different and higher being. Many people cling to this error and remain deaf to the wisest command ever given by a sage, the famous 'Know thyself' inscribed in the temple of Delphi. What keeps people from listening to it? There are three obstacles, all of them motivated by strong emotions. The first is easily overcome by the man of insight; the second is at least honourable, in spite of its harmful effects; the third is understandable from the standpoint of cultural history and is therefore forgivable, but it is the most difficult to remove. All three are inseparably bound up and shot through with a most dangerous human quality, of which the proverb says that it goes before a fall: pride. I will now discuss these obstacles and try to show in what manner they are harmful, and then I will do my best to contribute towards their elimination.
The first obstacle is the most primitive. It hinders self-knowledge in inhibiting man's awareness of his own evolutionary origin. Its irrational quality and its stubborn tenacity are paradoxically derived from the great likeness which our nearest animal relations bear to us. If people did not know the chimpanzee they would be more easily convinced of their own origin. An inexorable law of perception prevents us from seeing in the ape, particularly in the chimpanzee, an animal like other animals, and makes us see in its face the human physiognomy. From this point of view, measured by human standards, the chimpanzee of course appears as something horrible, a diabolical caricature of ourselves. In looking at the gorilla or the orang-utan, which are less closely related to us, our judgement is correspondingly less distorted. The heads of the old males may look to us like bizarre devils' masks, impressive and even aesthetically appealing. However, we cannot feel like this about the chimpanzee: he is irresistibly funny and at the same time as common, as vulgar, as no other animal but a debased human being can ever be. This subjective impression is not altogether wrong: there are reasons for supposing that the common ancestor of man and the chimpanzee stood not lower but considerably higher than the chimpanzee does today. Absurd though the contemptuous attitude of man to the chimpanzee may be in itself, its strong emotional content has nevertheless misled several scientists into building up entirely unfounded theories about the origin of man: his evolution from animals is not disputed, but his close relationship to the repulsive chimpanzee is either passed over in a few logical skips or circumvented by sophistic detours.
The chimpanzee, however, is irresistibly funny just because he is so similar to us. What is worse is that in the narrow confinement of zoological gardens, adult chimpanzees degenerate much in the same way as human beings would under comparable circumstances, and give an impression of real dissoluteness and depravity. Even the normal chimp observed in perfect health gives the impression not of an extremely highly evolved animal but rather of a desperate and debased human being.
The second obstacle to self-knowledge is our reluctance to accept the fact that our own behaviour obeys the laws of natural causation. Bernhard Hassenstein has called this attitude the 'anti-causal value judgement'. The reluctance of many people to recognise the causal determination of all natural phenomena, human behaviour included, undoubtedly comes from the justifiable wish to possess a free will and to feel that our actions are determined not by fortuitous causes but by higher aims.
A third great obstacle to human self-knowledge is- at least in our Western cultures - a heritage of idealistic philosophy. It stems from the dichotomy of the world into the external world of things, which to idealistic thought is devoid of values, and the inner world of human thought and reason to which alone values are attributed. This division appeals to man's spiritual pride. It supports him in his reluctance to accept the determination of his own behaviour by natural laws. How deeply it has penetrated into accepted ways of thinking can be seen from the alteration in meaning of the words 'idealist' and 'realist', which originally signified philosophic attitudes but today imply moral value judgements. We must realize how common it has become in Western, particularly German, thought to consider that whatever can be explained by the laws of nature is automatically devoid of higher values. To anybody thinking in this way explanation means devaluation.
I must here guard against the possible reproach that I am preaching against the three obstacles to human self-knowledge because they contradict my own scientific and philosophic views: I am not arguing against the rejection of the doctrine of evolution only because I am a convinced Darwinian; my opposition to the belief that natural explanation depreciates whatever it explains is not motivated by the fact that I happen to be professionally engaged in causal analysis; nor do I object to certain consequences of idealistic thought because my own epistemological attitude is that of hypothetical realism. I have better reasons. Science is often accused of having brought terrible dangers upon man by giving him too much power over nature. This accusation would be justified only if scientists were guilty of having neglected man himself as a subject for research. The danger to modern man arises not so much from his power of mastering natural phenomena as from his powerlessness to control sensibly what is happening today in his own society. I maintain that this powerlessness is entirely the consequence of the lack of human insight into the causation of human behaviour. What I intend to show is that the insight necessary to control our own social behaviour is blocked by the three pride-inspired obstacles to self-knowledge.
These obstacles prevent the causal analysis of all those processes in the life of man which he regards as being of particular value, in other words those processes of which he is proud. It cannot be stressed enough: the fact that the functions of our digestive system are well known and that, as a result of this knowledge, medicine, particularly intestinal surgery, saves many thousands of human lives annually, is entirely due to the fortunate circumstance that the functions of these organs do not evoke particular awe or reverence. If, on the other hand, we are powerless against the pathological disintegration of our social structure, and if, armed with atomic weapons, we cannot control our aggressive behaviour any more sensibly than any animal species, this deplorable situation is largely due to our arrogant refusal to regard our own behaviour as equally subject to the laws of nature and accessible to causal analysis.
Science is not to blame for men's lack of self-knowledge. Giordano Bruno went to the stake because he told his fellow men that they and their planet were only a speck of dust in a cloud of countless other specks. When Charles Darwin discovered that men are descended from animals they would have been glad to kill him, and there was certainly no lack of attempts to silence him. When Sigmund Freud attempted to analyse the motives of human social behaviour and to explain its causes from the subjective-psychological side, but with the method of approach of true natural science, he was accused of irreverence, blind materialism and even pornographic tendencies. Humanity defends its own self-esteem with all its might, and it is certainly time to preach humility and try seriously to break down all obstructions to self-knowledge.
I will begin by attacking the resistance to the doctrine of Charles Darwin, and it may be considered an encouraging sign for the gradual spread of scientific education that today I no longer have to combat those who rose up against the findings of Giordano Bruno. I think I know a simple method of reconciling people to the fact that they are part of nature and have themselves originated by natural evolution without any infringement of natural laws: one need only show them the beauty and greatness of the universe, and the awe-inspiring laws that govern it. Surely nobody who knows enough about the phylogenetic evolution of the world of organisms can feel any inner resistance to the knowledge that he himself owes his existence to this greatest of all natural phenomena. I will not discuss the probability or rather the certainty of evolution, a certainty which by far surpasses that of all our historical knowledge. Everything we know confirms the fact of evolution; it possesses, too, everything that makes a 'myth of creation' valuable; utter convincingness, entrancing beauty and awe-inspiring greatness.
Anyone who understands this cannot possibly be repelled by Darwin's recognition of the fact that we have a common origin with animals, nor by Freud's realisation that we are still driven by the same instincts as our prehuman ancestors. On the contrary, this knowledge inspires a new feeling of respect for the functions of reason and moral responsibility which first came into the world with man and which, provided he does not blindly and arrogantly deny the existence of his animal inheritance, give him the power to control it.
A further reason why some people still resist the doctrine of evolution is the great respect we human beings have for our ancestors. To descend from, means, literally, to come down, and even in Roman law it was customary to put the ancestor uppermost in the pedigree and to draw the family tree branching downwards. The fact that a human being has only two parents but 256 great-great-great-great-great-great-grand-parents does not appear in such pedigrees even if they extend to many generations. We avoid mentioning this multitude because among so many ancestors we would not find enough of whom we could be proud. According to some authors, the term 'descent' may derive from the fact that in ancient times man was fond of tracing his origin to the gods. That the family tree of life grows not from above downwards but from below upwards escaped man's notice until Darwin's time; thus the word 'descent' stands for the opposite of what it means, unless we wish to take it literally that our forefathers, in their time, came down from the trees. This they actually did, though as we know today, a long time before they became human beings.
The terms 'development' and 'evolution' are nearly as inadequate as 'descent'. They too came into use at a time when we knew nothing of the creative processes of the origin of species and only knew about the origin of individuals from eggs or seeds. A chick literally develops from an egg and a sunflower from a seed: that is nothing originates from the germ that was not already formed inside it.
The growth of the great family tree of life is quite different. Though the ancestral form is the indispensable prerequisite for the origin of its more highly developed descendants, their evolution can in no way be predicted from the characters of the ancestor. The fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs or man from apes is a historically unique achievement of evolution. By laws that govern every living being evolution has a general trend to the higher but in all its details is determined by so-called chance, that is by innumerable collateral chains of causation which in principle can never be completely apprehended. It is by 'chance' in this sense that from primitive forebears in Australia eucalyptus trees and kangaroos originated, and in Europe and Asia oak trees and man. The newly evolved form of life is an achievement, and its characters cannot be predicted from those of its forebear; that is, in the large majority of cases, something higher than the latter The naive value-judgement expressed in the words 'lower animals' is for every unbiased person an inevitable necessity of thinking and feeling.
The scientist who considers himself absolutely 'objective' and believes that he can free himself from the compulsion of the 'merely' subjective should try - only in imagination of course to kill in succession a lettuce, a fly, a frog, a guineapig, a cat, a dog, and finally a chimpanzee. He will then be aware how increasingly difficult murder becomes as the victim's level of organisation rises. The degree of inhibition against killing each one of these beings is a very precise measure for the considerably different values that we cannot help attributing to lower and higher forms of life. To any man who finds it equally easy to chop up a live dog and a live lettuce I would recommend suicide at his earliest convenience!
The principle that science should be indifferent to values must not lead to the belief that evolution, that most wonderful of all chains of naturally explicable processes, is not capable of creating new values. That the origin of a higher form of life from a simpler ancestor means an increase in values is a reality as undeniable as that of our own existence.
None of our western languages has an intransitive verb to do justice to the increase of values produced by very nearly every step in evolution. One cannot possibly call it development when something new and higher arises from an earlier stage which does not contain the constituent properties for the new and higher being. Fundamentally this applies to each bigger step in the genesis of the world of organisms, including the first step, the origin of life, and the most recent one - the origin of man from the Anthropoid.
In spite of all epoch-making and inspiring new discoveries in biochemistry and virology, the origin of life is still the most puzzling of all natural phenomena. The difference between the processes of life and those occurring in non-living matter can only be defined by what Bernhard Hassenstein has termed an 'injunctive' definition. This means that to define the concept of life it is necessary to enumerate a number of constituent characteristics, none of which, taken by itself, constitutes life, but which, taken all together, in their summation and interaction, do indeed represent the essence of life. For each of the processes of life, such as metabolism, growth, propagation and so on, an analogy can be found in inorganic matter, but all together can only be found in the living protoplasm. We are thus justified in maintaining that life processes are chemical and physical processes, and as such there is no doubt that fundamentally there is a natural explanation for them. No miracle is required to explain their peculiarities, for these are adequately explained by the complicated nature of molecular and other structures It is wrong, however, to assert that life processes are essentially chemical and physical processes. This assertion, though often made, contains unnoticed a false value judgement. The very 'essence' of life processes is that combination of characteristics which constitutes their "injunctive" definition, and it is with regard to these very characteristics that life processes are emphatically not what we ordinarily mean when we speak of chemical or physical processes. By virtue of the molecular structure of the living matter in which they take place the processes of life fulfil a great number of very particular functions, such as self-regulation, self-preservation, acquisition and storage of information and, above all, reproduction of the structures essential for these functions. These, though in principle causally explicable, cannot take place in other structurally less complex matter.
In the world of organisms the relation of every higher life form to the lower one from which it originated is fundamentally the same as the relation of the processes and structures of life to those of the non-living. It would be a gross misrepresentation to say that the bird's wing is 'nothing but' a reptilian forelimb, or still worse, to say that man is 'nothing but' an ape. Indeed he is one, but he is much more besides: he is essentially more.
A sentimental misanthropist coined the often cited aphorism 'The more I see of human beings, the more I like animals". I maintain the contrary: only the person who knows animals, including the highest and most nearly related to ourselves, and who has gained insight into evolution, will be able to apprehend the unique position of man. We are the highest achievement reached so far by the great constructors of evolution. We are their 'latest' but certainly not their last word. The scientist must not regard anything as absolute, not even the laws of pure reason. He must remain aware of the great fact, discovered by Heraclitus, that nothing whatever really remains the same even for one moment, but that everything is perpetually changing. To regard man, the most ephemeral and rapidly evolving of all species, as the final and unsurpassable achievement of creation, especially at his present-day particularly dangerous and disagreeable stage of development, is certainly the most arrogant and dangerous of all untenable doctrines. If I thought of man as the final image of God, I should not know what to think of God. But when I consider that our ancestors, at a time fairly recent in relation to the earth's history, were perfectly ordinary apes, closely related to chimpanzees, I see a glimmer of hope. It does not require very great optimism to assume that from us human beings something better and higher may evolve. Far from seeing in man the irrevocable and unsurpassable image of God, I assert - more modestly and, I believe, in greater awe of the Creation and its infinite possibilities- that the long-sought missing link between animals and the really humane being is ourselves!
The first great obstacle to human self-knowledge, the reluctance to believe in our evolution from animals, is based, as I have tried to show, on ignorance or misunderstanding of the essence of organic creation. Fundamentally at least, it should be possible to remove this obstacle by teaching and learning. Similar means should help to remove the second obstacle, now to be discussed, the antipathy towards causal determination; but in this case the misunderstanding is far more difficult to clear up. Its root is the basically erroneous belief that a process which is causally determined cannot at the same time be goal-directed. Admittedly there are countless processes in the universe which are not goal-directed, and in these cases the question 'What for?' must remain unanswered, unless we are determined to find an answer at any price, in measureless overestimation of the importance of man, as for instance, if we explain the rising of the moon as a switching on of night illumination for our especial benefit. There is, however, no process to which the question of causes cannot be applied.
As already stated in Chapter III, the question 'What is it for?' only makes sense where the great constructors - or a living constructor constructed by them - have been at work. Only where parts of a systemic whole have become specialised, by division of labour, for different functions, each completing the other, does the question 'What is it for?' make any sense. This holds good for life processes, as also for those lifeless structures and functions which the living being makes use of for its own purposes, for instance, man-made machines. In these cases the question 'What is it for?' is not only relevant but absolutely necessary. We could not understand the cause of the cat's sharp claws if we had not first found out that their special function was catching mice.
At the beginning of Chapter VI, on the great parliament of instincts, we have already said that the answering of the question 'What is it for ?' does not rule out the question of the cause. How little the two questions preclude each other can be shown by a simple analogy. I am driving through the countryside in my old car, to give a lecture in a distant town, and I ponder on the usefulness of my car, the goals or aims which are so well served by its construction, and it pleases me to think how all this contributes to achieve the purpose of my journey. Suddenly the motor coughs once or twice and peters out. At this stage I am painfully aware that the reason for my journey does not make my car go; I am learning the hard way that aims or goals are not causes. It will now be well for me to concentrate exclusively on the natural causes of the car's workings, and to find out at what stage the chain of their causation was so unpleasantly interrupted.
Medicine, 'queen of applied sciences', furnishes us even better examples of the erroneousness of the view that purposiveness and causality preclude each other. No 'life purpose', no 'whole-making factor' and no sense of imperative obligation can help the unfortunate patient with acute appendicitis, but even the youngest hospital surgeon can help him if he has rightly diagnosed the cause of the trouble. The appreciation of the fact that life processes are directed at aims or goals, and the realisation of the other fact that they are, at the same time, determined by causality, not only do not preclude each other but they only make sense in combination. If man did not strive towards goals, his questions as to causes would have no sense; if he has no insight into cause and effect, he is powerless to guide effects towards determined goals, however rightly he may have understood the meaning of these goals.
This relation between the purposive and the causal aspects of life processes seems to me quite obvious, but evidently many people are under the illusion of their incompatibility. A classic example of how even a great mind can be a victim of this illusion is seen in the works of W. McDougall, the founder of 'purposive psychology'. In his book, Outline of Psychology, he rejects every causal physiological explanation of animal behaviour, with one exception: he explains the misfunctioning of the light-compass-orientation, which causes insects to fly at night into flames, by so-called tropisms, or causally analysed orientation mechanisms.
Probably the reason why people are so afraid of causal considerations is that they are terrified lest insight into the causes of earthly phenomena could expose man's free will as an illusion. In reality the fact that I have a will is as undeniable as the fact of my existence. Deeper insight into the physiological concatenation of causes of my own behaviour cannot in the least alter the fact that I will but it can alter what I will.
Only on very superficial consideration does free will seem to imply that 'we can want what we will' in complete lawlessness, though this thought may appeal to those who flee as in claustrophobia from causality. We must remember how the theory of indeterminism of microphysical phenomena, the 'acausal' quantum physics, was avidly seized and on its foundations hypotheses built up to mediate between physical determinism and belief in free will, though the only freedom thereby left to the will was the lamentable liberty of the fortuitously cast die. Nobody can seriously believe that free will means that it is left entirely to the will of the individual, as to an irresponsible tyrant, to do or not do whatever he pleases. Our freest will underlies strict moral laws, and one of the reasons for our longing for freedom is to prevent our obeying other laws than these. It is significant that the anguished feeling of not being free is never evoked by the realisation that our behaviour is just as firmly bound to moral laws as physiological processes are to physical ones. We are all agreed that the greatest and most precious freedom of man is identical with the moral laws within him. Increasing knowledge of the natural causes of his own behaviour can certainly increase a man's faculties and enable him to put his free will into action, but it can never diminish his will. If, in the impossible case of an utopian complete and ultimate success of causal analysis, man should ever achieve complete insight into the causality of earthly phenomena, including the workings of his own organism, he would not cease to have a will but it would be in perfect harmony with the incontrovertible lawfulness of the universe, the Weltvernunft of the Logos. This idea is foreign only to our present-day western thought; it was quite familiar to ancient Indian philosophy and to the mystics of the middle ages.
I now come to the third great obstacle to human self-knowledge, to the belief- deeply rooted in our western culture - that what can be explained in terms of natural science has no values. This belief springs from an exaggeration of Kant's values-philosophy, the consequence of the idealistic dichotomy of the world into the external world of things and the internal laws of human reason. As already intimated, fear of causality is one of the emotional reasons for the high values set on the unfathomable, but other unconscious factors are also involved. The behaviour of the ruler, the father-figure, whose essential features include an element of arbitrariness and injustice, is unaccountable. God's decree is inscrutable. Whatever can be explained by natural causes can be controlled, and with its obscurity it loses most of its terror. Benjamin Franklin made of the thunderbolt, the instrument of Zeus's unaccountable whim, an electric spark against which the lightning conductors of our houses can protect us. The unfounded fear that nature might be desecrated by causal insight forms the second chief motive of people's fear of causality. Hence there arises a further obstacle to science, and this is all the stronger the greater a man's sense of the aesthetic beauty and awe-inspiring greatness of the universe and the more beautiful and venerable any particular natural phenomenon seems to him.
The obstacle to research arising from these unfortunate associations is the more dangerous since it never crosses the threshold of consciousness. If questioned, such people would profess in all sincerity to be supporters of scientific research, and within the limits of a circumscribed special field they may even be great scientists. But subconsciously they are firmly resolved not to carry their natural explanations beyond the limits of the awe-inspiring. Their error does not lie in the false assumption that some things are inexplorable: nobody knows so well as the scientist that there are limits to human understanding, but he is always aware that we do not know where these limits lie. Kant says, 'Our observation and analysis of its phenomena penetrate to the depth of nature. We do not know how far this will lead us in time.' The obstacle to scientific research produced by the attitude here discussed consists in setting a dogmatic border between the explorable and what is considered beyond exploration. Many excellent observers have so great a respect for life and its characteristics that they draw the line at its origin. They accept a special life force, force vitale, a direction-giving, whole-making factor which, they consider, neither requires nor permits an explanation. Others draw the line where they feel that human dignity demands a halt before any further attempts at natural explanation.
The attitude of the true scientist towards the real limits of human understanding was unforgettably impressed on me in early youth by the obviously unpremeditated words of a great biologist; Alfred Kuhn finished a lecture to the Austrian Academy of Sciences with Goethe's words, 'It is the greatest joy of the man of thought to have explored the explorable and then calmly to revere the inexplorable.' After the last word he hesitated, raised his hand in repudiation and cried, above the applause, 'No, not calmly, gentlemen; not calmly !' One could even define a true scientist by his ability to feel undiminished awe for the explorable that he has explored; from this arises his ability to want to explore the apparently inexplorable: he is not afraid of desecrating nature by causal insight. Never has natural explanation of one of its marvellous processes exposed nature as a charlatan who has lost the reputation of his sorcery; natural causal associations have always turned out to be grander and more awe-inspiring than even the most imaginative mythical interpretation. The true scientist does not need the inexplorable, the supernatural, to evoke his reverence: for him there is only one miracle, namely, that everything, even the finest flowerings of life, have come into being without miracles; for him the universe would lose some of its grandeur if he thought that any phenomenon even reason and moral sense in noble-minded human beings, could be accounted for only by an infringement of the omnipresent and omnipotent laws of one universe.
Nothing can better express the feelings of the scientist towards the great unity of the laws of nature than in Immanuel Kant's words: 'Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing awe: the stars above me and the moral law within me.' Admiration and awe did not prevent the great philosopher from finding a natural explanation for the laws of the heavens, indeed an explanation based on their evolutionary origin. Would he, who did not yet know of the evolution of the world of organisms, be shocked that we consider the moral law within us not as something given, a priori, but as something which has arisen by natural evolution, just like the laws of the heavens?
Chapter 1 “Separation Perfected”
But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.
Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity
1. In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
2. The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.
3. The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society it is specifically the sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness. Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the common ground of the deceived gaze and of false consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of generalized separation.
4. The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.
5. The spectacle cannot be understood as an abuse of the world of vision, as a product of the techniques of mass dissemination of images. It is, rather, a Weltanschauung which has become actual, materially translated. It is a world vision which has become objectified.
6. The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its specific forms, as information or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, the spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made in production and its corollary consumption. The spectacle’s form and content are identically the total justification of the existing system’s conditions and goals. The spectacle is also the permanent presence of this justification, since it occupies the main part of the time lived outside of modern production.
7. Separation is itself part of the unity of the world, of the global social praxis split up into reality and image. The social practice which the autonomous spectacle confronts is also the real totality which contains the spectacle. But the split within this totality mutilates it to the point of making the spectacle appear as its goal. The language of the spectacle consists of signs of the ruling production, which at the same time are the ultimate goal of this production.
8. One cannot abstractly contrast the spectacle to actual social activity: such a division is itself divided. The spectacle which inverts the real is in fact produced. Lived reality is materially invaded by the contemplation of the spectacle while simultaneously absorbing the spectacular order, giving it positive cohesiveness. Objective reality is present on both sides. Every notion fixed this way has no other basis than its passage into the opposite: reality rises up within the spectacle, and the spectacle is real. This reciprocal alienation is the essence and the support of the existing society.
9. In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.
10. The oncept of spectacle unifies and explains a great diversity of apparent phenomena. The diversity and the contrasts are appearances of a socially organized appearance, the general truth of which must itself be recognized. Considered in its own terms, the spectacle is affirmation of appearance and affirmation of all human life, namely social life, as mere appearance. But the critique which reaches the truth of the spectacle exposes it as the visible negation of life, as a negation of life which has become visible.
11. To describe the spectacle, its formation, its functions and the forces which tend to dissolve it, one must artificially distinguish certain inseparable elements. When analyzing the spectacle one speaks, to some extent, the language of the spectacular itself in the sense that one moves through the methodological terrain of the very society which expresses itself in the spectacle. But the spectacle is nothing other than the sense of the total practice of a social-economic formation, its use of time. It is the historical movement in which we are caught.
12. The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than “that which appears is good, that which is good appears. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance.
13. The basically tautological character of the spectacle flows from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory.
14. The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle, which is the image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself.
15. As the indispensable decoration of the objects produced today, as the general expose of the rationality of the system, as the advanced economic sector which directly shapes a growing multitude of image-objects, the spectacle is the main production of present-day society.
16. The spectacle subjugates living men to itself to the extent that the economy has totally subjugated them. It is no more than the economy developing for itself. It is the true reflection of the production of things, and the false objectification of the producers.
17. The first phase of the domination of the economy over social life brought into the definition of all human realization the obvious degradation of being into having. The present phase of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having into appearing, from which all actual “having” must draw its immediate prestige and its ultimate function. At the same time all individual reality has become social reality directly dependent on social power and shaped by it. It is allowed to appear only to the extent that it is not.
18. Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior. The spectacle, as a tendency to make one see the world by means of various specialized mediations (it can no longer be grasped directly), naturally finds vision to be the privileged human sense which the sense of touch was for other epochs; the most abstract, the most mystifiable sense corresponds to the generalized abstraction of present-day society. But the spectacle is not identifiable with mere gazing, even combined with hearing. It is that which escapes the activity of men, that which escapes reconsideration and correction by their work. It is the opposite of dialogue. Wherever there is independent representation, the spectacle reconstitutes itself.
19. The spectacle inherits all the weaknesses of the Western philosophical project which undertook to comprehend activity in terms of the categories of seeing; furthermore, it is based on the incessant spread of the precise technical rationality which grew out of this thought. The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality. The concrete life of everyone has been degraded into a speculative universe.
20. Philosophy, the power of separate thought and the thought of separate power, could never by itself supersede theology. The spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispelled the religious clouds where men had placed their own powers detached from themselves; it has only tied them to an earthly base. The most earthly life thus becomes opaque and unbreathable. It no longer projects into the sky but shelters within itself its absolute denial, its fallacious paradise. The spectacle is the technical realization of the exile of human powers into a beyond; it is separation perfected within the interior of man.
21. To the extent that necessity is socially dreamed, the dream becomes necessary. The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.
22. The fact that the practical power of modern society detached itself and built an independent empire in the spectacle can be explained only by the fact that this practical power continued to lack cohesion and remained in contradiction with itself.
23. The oldest social specialization, the specialization of power, is at the root of the spectacle. The spectacle is thus a specialized activity which speaks for all the others. It is the diplomatic representation of hierarchic society to itself, where all other expression is banned. Here the most modern is also the most archaic.
24. The spectacle is the existing order’s uninterrupted discourse about itself, its laudatory monologue. It is the self-portrait of power in the epoch of its totalitarian management of the conditions of existence. The fetishistic, purely objective appearance of spectacular relations conceals the fact that they are relations among men and classes: a second nature with its fatal laws seems to dominate our environment. But the spectacle is not the necessary product of technical development seen as a natural development. The society of the spectacle is on the contrary the form which chooses its own technical content. If the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of “mass media” which are its most glaring superficial manifestation, seems to invade society as mere equipment, this equipment is in no way neutral but is the very means suited to its total self-movement. If the social needs of the epoch in which such techniques are developed can only be satisfied through their mediation, if the administration of this society and all contact among men can no longer take place except through the intermediary of this power of instantaneous communication, it is because this “communication” is essentially unilateral. The concentration of “communication” is thus an accumulation, in the hands of the existing system s administration, of the means which allow it to carry on this particular administration. The generalized cleavage of the spectacle is inseparable from the modern State, namely from the general form of cleavage within society, the product of the division of social labor and the organ of class domination.
25. Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle. The institutionalization of the social division of labor, the formation of classes, had given rise to a first sacred contemplation, the mythical order with which every power shrouds itself from the beginning. The sacred has justified the cosmic and ontological order which corresponded to the interests of the masters; it has explained and embellished that which society could not do. Thus all separate power has been spectacular, but the adherence of all to an immobile image only signified the common acceptance of an imaginary prolongation of the poverty of real social activity, still largely felt as a unitary condition. The modern spectacle, on the contrary, expresses what society can do, but in this expression the permitted is absolutely opposed to the possible. The spectacle is the preservation of unconsciousness within the practical change of the conditions of existence. It is its own product, and it has made its own rules: it is a pseudo-sacred entity. It shows what it is: separate power developing in itself, in the growth of productivity by means of the incessant refinement of the division of labor into a parcellization of gestures which are then dominated by the independent movement of machines; and working for an ever-expanding market. All community and all critical sense are dissolved during this movement in which the forces that could grow by separating are not yet reunited.
26. With the generalized separation of the worker and his products, every unitary view of accomplished activity and all direct personal communication among producers are lost. Accompanying the progress of accumulation of separate products and the concentration of the productive process, unity and communication become the exclusive attribute of the system’s management. The success of the economic system of separation is the proletarianization of the world.
27. Due to the success of separate production as production of the separate, the fundamental experience which in primitive societies is attached to a central task is in the process of being displaced, at the crest of the system’s development. by non-work, by inactivity. But this inactivity is in no way liberated from productive activity: it depends on productive activity and is an uneasy and admiring submission to the necessities and results of production; it is itself a product of its rationality. There can be no freedom outside of activity, and in the context of the spectacle all activity is negated. just as real activity has been captured in its entirety for the global construction of this result. Thus the present “liberation from labor,” the increase of leisure, is in no way a liberation within labor, nor a liberation from the world shaped by this labor. None of the activity lost in labor can be regained in the submission to its result.
28. The economic system founded on isolation is a circular production of isolation. The technology is based on isolation, and the technical process isolates in turn. From the automobile to television, all the goods selected by the spectacular system are also its weapons for a constant reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of “lonely crowds.” The spectacle constantly rediscovers its own assumptions more concretely.
29. The spectacle originates in the loss of the unity of the world, and the gigantic expansion of the modern spectacle expresses the totality of this loss: the abstraction of all specific labor and the general abstraction of the entirety of production are perfectly rendered in the spectacle, whose mode of being concrete is precisely abstraction. In the spectacle, one part of the world represents itself to the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is nothing more than the common language of this separation. What binds the spectators together is no more than an irreversible relation at the very center which maintains their isolation. The spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate.
30. The alienation of the spectator to the profit of the contemplated object (which is the result of his own unconscious activity) is expressed in the following way: the more he contemplates the less he lives; the more he accepts recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires. The externality of the spectacle in relation to the active man appears in the fact that his own gestures are no longer his but those of another who represents them to him. This is why the spectator feels at home nowhere, because the spectacle is everywhere.
31. The worker does not produce himself; he produces an independent power. The success of this production, its abundance, returns to the producer as an abundance of dispossession. All the time and space of his world become foreign to him with the accumulation of his alienated products. The spectacle is the map of this new world, a map which exactly covers its territory. The very powers which escaped us show themselves to us in all their force.
32. The spectacle within society corresponds to a concrete manufacture of alienation. Economic expansion is mainly the expansion of this specific industrial production. What grows with the economy in motion for itself can only be the very alienation which was at its origin.
33. Separated from his product, man himself produces all the details of his world with ever increasing power, and thus finds himself ever more separated from his world. The more his life is now his product, the more lie is separated from his life.
34. The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.
Chapter 2 “Commodity as Spectacle”
The commodity can only be understood in its undistorted essence when it becomes the universal category of society as a whole. Only in this context does the reification produced by commodity relations assume decisive importance both for the objective evolution of society and for the stance adopted by men towards it. Only then does the commodity become crucial for the subjugation of men’s consciousness to the forms in which this reification finds expression.... As labor is progressively rationalized and mechanized man’s lack of will is reinforced by the way in which his activity becomes less and less active and more and more contemplative.
Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness
35. In the essential movement of the spectacle, which consists of taking up all that existed in human activity in a fluid state so as to possess it in a congealed state as things which have become the exclusive value by their formulation in negative of lived value, we recognize our old enemy, the commodity, who knows so well how to seem at first glance something trivial and obvious, while on the contrary it is so complex and so full of metaphysical subtleties.
36. This is the principle of commodity fetishism, the domination of society by “intangible as well as tangible things,” which reaches its absolute fulfillment in the spectacle, where the tangible world is replaced by a selection of images which exist above it, and which simultaneously impose themselves as the tangible par excellence.
37. The world at once present and absent which the spectacle makes visible is the world of the commodity dominating all that is lived. The world of the commodity is thus shown for what it is, because its movement is identical to the estrangement of men among themselves and in relation to their global product.
38. The loss of quality so evident at all levels of spectacular language, from the objects it praises to the behavior it regulates, merely translates the fundamental traits of the real production which brushes reality aside: the commodity-form is through and through equal to itself, the category of the quantitative. The quantitative is what the commodity-form develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative.
39. This development which excludes the qualitative is itself, as development, subject to qualitative change: the spectacle indicates that it has crossed the threshold of its own abundance; this is as yet true only locally at some points, but is already true on the universal scale which is the original context of the commodity, a context which its practical movement, encompassing the Earth as a world market, has verified.
40. The development of productive forces has been the real unconscious history which built and modified the conditions of existence of human groups as conditions of survival, and extended those conditions: the economic basis of all their undertakings. In a primitive economy, the commodity sector represented a surplus of survival. The production of commodities, which implies the exchange of varied products among independent producers, could for a long time remain craft production, contained within a marginal economic function where its quantitative truth was still masked. However, where commodity production met the social conditions of large scale commerce and of the accumulation of capitals, it seized total domination over the economy. The entire economy then became what the commodity had shown itself to be in the course of this conquest: a process of quantitative development. This incessant expansion of economic power in the form of the commodity, which transformed human labor into commodity-labor, into wage-labor, cumulatively led to an abundance in which the primary question of survival is undoubtedly resolved, but in such a way that it is constantly rediscovered; it is continually posed again each time at a higher level. Economic growth frees societies from the natural pressure which required their direct struggle for survival, but at that point it is from their liberator that they are not liberated. The independence of the commodity is extended to the entire economy aver which it rules. The economy transforms the world, but transforms it only into a world of economy. The pseudo-nature within which human labor is alienated demands that it be served ad infinitum, and this service, being judged and absolved only by itself, in fact acquires the totality of socially permissible efforts and projects as its servants. The abundance of commodities, namely, of commodity relations, can be nothing more than increased survival.
41. The commodity’s domination was at first exerted aver the economy in an occult manner; the economy itself, the material basis of social life, remained unperceived and not understood, like the familiar which is not necessarily known. In a society where the concrete commodity is rare or unusual, money, apparently dominant, presents itself as an emissary armed with full powers who speaks in the name of an unknown force. With the industrial revolution, the division of labor in manufactures, and mass production far the world market, the commodity appears in fact as a power which comes to occupy social life. It is then that political economy takes shape, as the dominant science and the science of domination.
42. The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. Not only is the relation to the commodity visible but it is all one sees: the world one sees is its world. Modern economic production extends its dictatorship extensively and intensively. In the least industrialized places, its reign is already attested by a few star commodities and by the imperialist domination imposed by regions which are ahead in the development of productivity. In the advanced regions, social space is invaded by a continuous superimposition of geological layers of commodities. At this point in the “second industrial revolution,” alienated consumption becomes for the masses a duty supplementary to alienated production. It is all the sold labor of a society which globally becomes the total commodity for which the cycle must be continued. For this to be done, the total commodity has to return as a fragment to the fragmented individual, absolutely separated from the productive forces operating as a whole. Thus it is here that the specialized science of domination must in turn specialize: it fragments itself into sociology, psychotechnics, cybernetics, semiology, etc., watching over the self-regulation of every level of the process.
43. Whereas in the primitive phase of capitalist accumulation, “political economy sees in the proletarian only the worker” who must receive the minimum indispensable for the conservation of his labor power, without ever seeing him “in his leisure and humanity,” these ideas of the ruling class are reversed as soon as the production of commodities reaches a level of abundance which requires a surplus of collaboration from the worker. This worker, suddenly redeemed from the total contempt which is clearly shown him by all the varieties of organization and supervision of production, finds himself every day, outside of production and in the guise of a consumer, seemingly treated as an adult, with zealous politeness. At this point the humanism of the commodity takes charge of the worker’s “leisure and humanity,” simply because now political economy can and must dominate these spheres as political economy. Thus the “perfected denial of man” has taken charge of the totality of human existence.
44. The spectacle is a permanent opium war which aims to make people identify goods with commodities and satisfaction with survival that increases according to its own laws. But if consumable survival is something which must always increase, this is because it continues to contain privation. If there is nothing beyond increasing survival, if there is no point where it might stop growing, this is not because it is beyond privation, but because it is enriched privation.
45. Automation, the most advanced sector of modern industry as well as the model which perfectly sums up its practice, drives the commodity world toward the following contradiction: the technical equipment which objectively eliminates labor must at the same time preserve labor as a commodity and as the only source of the commodity. If the social labor (time) engaged by the society is not to diminish because of automation (or any other less extreme form of increasing the productivity of labor), then new jobs have to be created. Services, the tertiary sector, swell the ranks of the army of distribution and are a eulogy to the current commodities; the additional forces which are mobilized just happen to be suitable for the organization of redundant labor required by the artificial needs for such commodities.
46. Exchange value could arise only as an agent of use value, but its victory by means of its own weapons created the conditions for its autonomous domination. Mobilizing all human use and establishing a monopoly over its satisfaction, exchange value has ended up by directing use. The process of exchange became identified with all possible use and reduced use to the mercy of exchange. Exchange value is the condottiere of use value who ends up waging the war for himself.
47. The tendency of use value to fall, this constant of capitalist economy, develops a new form of privation within increased survival: the new privation is not far removed from the old penury since it requires most men to participate as wage workers in the endless pursuit of its attainment, and since everyone knows he must submit or die. The reality of this blackmail accounts for the general acceptance of the illusion at the heart of the consumption of modern commodities: use in its most impoverished form (food and lodging) today exists only to the extent that it is imprisoned in the illusory wealth of increased survival. The real consumer becomes a consumer of illusions. The commodity is this factually real illusion, and the spectacle is its general manifestation.
48. In the inverted reality of the spectacle, use value (which was implicitly contained in exchange value) must now be explicitly proclaimed precisely because its factual reality is eroded by the overdeveloped commodity economy and because counterfeit life requires a pseudo-justification.
49. The spectacle is the other side of money: it is the general abstract equivalent of all commodities. Money dominated society as the representation of general equivalence, namely, of the exchangeability of different goods whose uses could not be compared. The spectacle is the developed modern complement of money where the totality of the commodity world appears as a whole, as a general equivalence for what the entire society can be and can do. The spectacle is the money which one only looks at, because in the spectacle the totality of use is already exchanged for the totality of abstract representation. The spectacle is not only the servant of pseudo-use, it is already in itself the pseudo-use of life.
50. At the moment of economic abundance, the concentrated result of social labor becomes visible and subjugates all reality to appearance, which is now its product. Capital is no longer the invisible center which directs the mode of production: its accumulation spreads it all the way to the periphery in the form of tangible objects. The entire expanse of society is its portrait.
51. The victory of the autonomous economy must at the same time be its defeat. The forces which it has unleashed eliminate the economic necessity which was the immutable basis of earlier societies. When economic necessity is replaced by the necessity for boundless economic development, the satisfaction of primary human needs is replaced by an uninterrupted fabrication of pseudo-needs which are reduced to the single pseudo-need of maintaining the reign of the autonomous economy. The autonomous economy permanently breaks away from fundamental need to the extent that it emerges from the social unconscious which unknowingly depended on it. “All that is conscious wears out. What is unconscious remains unalterable. But once freed, does it not fall to ruins in turn?” (Freud).
52. As soon as society discovers that it depends on the economy, the economy, in fact, depends on society. This subterranean force, which grew until it appeared sovereign, has lost its power. That which was the economic it must become the I. The subject can emerge only from society, namely from the struggle within society. The subject’s possible existence depends on the outcome of the class struggle which shows itself to be the product and the producer of the economic foundation of history.
53. The consciousness of desire and the desire for consciousness are identically the project which, in its negative form, seeks the abolition of classes, the workers’ direct possession of every aspect of their activity. Its opposite is the society of the spectacle, where the commodity contemplates itself in a world it has created.
Chapter 3 “Unity and Division Within Appearance”
A lively new polemic about the concepts “one divides into two” and “two fuse into one” is unfolding on the philosophical front in this country. This debate is a struggle between those who are for and those who are against the materialist dialectic, a struggle between two conceptions of the world: the proletarian conception and the bourgeois conception. Those who maintain that “one divides into two” is the fundamental law of things are on the side of the materialist dialectic; those who maintain that the fundamental law of things is that “two fuse into one” are against the materialist dialectic. The two sides have drawn a clear line of demarcation between them, and their arguments are diametrically opposed. This polemic is a reflection, on the ideological level, of the acute and complex class struggle taking place in China and in the world.
Red Flag, (Peking), 21 September 1964
54. The spectacle, like modern society, is at once unified and divided. Like society, it builds its unity on the disjunction. But the contradiction, when it emerges in the spectacle, is in turn contradicted by a reversal of its meaning, so that the demonstrated division is unitary, while the demonstrated unity is divided.
55. The struggle of powers constituted for the management of the same socio-economic system is disseminated as the official contradiction but is in fact part of the real unity–on a world scale as well as within every nation.
56. The spectacular sham struggles of rival forms of separate power are at the same time real in that they translate the unequal and antagonistic development of the system, the relatively contradictory interests of classes or subdivisions of classes which acknowledge the system and define themselves as participants within its power. Just as the development of the most advanced economy is a clash between some priorities and others, the totalitarian management of the economy by a State bureaucracy and the condition of the countries within the sphere of colonization or semi-colonization are defined by specific peculiarities in the varieties of production and power. These diverse oppositions can be passed off in the spectacle as absolutely distinct forms of society (by means of any number of different criteria). But in actual fact, the truth of the uniqueness of all these specific sectors resides in the universal system that contains them: the unique movement that makes the planet its field, capitalism.
57. The society which carries the spectacle does not dominate the underdeveloped regions by its economic hegemony alone. It dominates them as the society of the spectacle. Even where the material base is still absent, modern society has already invaded the social surface of each continent by means of the spectacle. It defines the program of the ruling class and presides over its formation, just as it presents pseudo-goods to be coveted. it offers false models of revolution to local revolutionaries. The spectacle of bureaucratic power, which holds sway over some industrial countries, is an integral part of the total spectacle, its general pseudo-negation and support. The spectacle displays certain totalitarian specializations of communication and administration when viewed locally, but when viewed in terms of the functioning of the entire system these specializations merge in a world division of spectacular tasks.
58. The division of spectacular tasks preserves the entirety of the existing order and especially the dominant pole of its development. The root of the spectacle is within the abundant economy the source of the fruits which ultimately take over the spectacular market despite the ideological-police protectionist barriers of local spectacles aspiring to autarchy.
59. Under the shimmering diversions of the spectacle, banalization dominates modern society the world over and at every point where the developed consumption of commodities has seemingly multiplied the roles and objects to choose from. The remains of religion and of the family (the principal relic of the heritage of class power) and the moral repression they assure, merge whenever the enjoyment of this world is affirmed–this world being nothing other than repressive pseudo-enjoyment. The smug acceptance of what exists can also merge with purely spectacular rebellion; this reflects the simple fact that dissatisfaction itself became a commodity as soon as economic abundance could extend production to the processing of such raw materials.
60. The celebrity, the spectacular representation of a living human being, embodies this banality by embodying the image of a possible role. Being a star means specializing in the seemingly lived; the star is the object of identification with the shallow seeming life that has to compensate for the fragmented productive specializations which are actually lived. Celebrities exist to act out various styles of living and viewing society unfettered, free to express themselves globally. They embody the inaccessible result of social labor by dramatizing its by-products magically projected above it as its goal: power and vacations, decision and consumption, which are the beginning and end of an undiscussed process. In one case state power personalizes itself as a pseudo-star; in another a star of consumption gets elected as a pseudo-power over the lived. But just as the activities of the star are not really global. they are not really varied.
61. The agent of the spectacle placed on stage as a star is the opposite of the individual, the enemy of the individual in himself as well as in others. Passing into the spectacle as a model for identification. the agent renounces all autonomous qualities in order to identify himself with the general law of obedience to the course of things. The consumption celebrity superficially represents different types of personality and shows each of these types having equal access to the totality of consumption and finding similar happiness there. The decision celebrity must possess a complete stock of accepted human qualities. Official differences between stars are wiped out by the official similarity which is the presupposition of their excellence in everything. Khrushchev became a general so as to make decisions on the battle of Kursk, not on the spot, but at the twentieth anniversary, when he was master of the State. Kennedy remained an orator even to the point of proclaiming the eulogy over his own tomb, since Theodore Sorenson continued to edit speeches for the successor in the style which had characterized the personality of the deceased. The admirable people in whom the system personifies itself are well known for not being what they are; they became great men by stooping below the reality of the smallest individual life, and everyone knows it.
62. False choice in spectacular abundance, a choice which lies in the juxtaposition of competing and complimentary spectacles and also in the juxtaposition of roles (signified and carried mainly by things) which are at once exclusive and overlapping, develops into a struggle of vaporous qualities meant to stimulate loyalty to quantitative triviality. This resurrects false archaic oppositions, regionalisms and racisms which serve to raise the vulgar hierarchic ranks of consumption to a preposterous ontological superiority. In this way, the endless series of trivial confrontations is set up again. from competitive sports to elections, mobilizing a sub-ludic interest. Wherever there is abundant consumption, a major spectacular opposition between youth and adults comes to the fore among the false roles–false because the adult, master of his life, does not exist and because youth, the transformation of what exists, is in no way the property of those who are now young, but of the economic system, of the dynamism of capitalism. Things rule and are young; things confront and replace one another.
63. What hides under the spectacular oppositions is a unity of misery. Behind the masks of total choice, different forms of the same alienation confront each other, all of them built on real contradictions which are repressed. The spectacle exists in a concentrated or a diffuse form depending on the necessities of the particular stage of misery which it denies and supports. In both cases, the spectacle is nothing more than an image of happy unification surrounded by desolation and fear at the tranquil center of misery.
64. The concentrated spectacle belongs essentially to bureaucratic capitalism, even though it may be imported as a technique of state power in mixed backward economies or, at certain moments of crisis, in advanced capitalism. In fact, bureaucratic property itself is concentrated in such a way that the individual bureaucrat relates to the ownership of the global economy only through an intermediary, the bureaucratic community, and only as a member of this community. Moreover, the production of commodities, less developed in bureaucratic capitalism, also takes on a concentrated form: the commodity the bureaucracy holds on to is the totality of social labor, and what it sells back to society is wholesale survival. The dictatorship of the bureaucratic economy cannot leave the exploited masses any significant margin of choice. since the bureaucracy itself has to choose everything and since any other external choice, whether it concern food or music, is already a choice to destroy the bureaucracy completely. This dictatorship must be accompanied by permanent violence. The imposed image of the good envelops in its spectacle the totality of what officially exists, and is usually concentrated in one man, who is the guarantee of totalitarian cohesion. Everyone must magically identify with this absolute celebrity or disappear. This celebrity is master of non-consumption, and the heroic image which gives an acceptable meaning to the absolute exploitation that primitive accumulation accelerated by terror really is. If every Chinese must learn Mao, and thus be Mao, it is because he can be nothing else. Wherever the concentrated spectacle rules, so does the police.
65. The diffuse spectacle accompanies the abundance of commodities, the undisturbed development of modern capitalism. Here every individual commodity is justified in the name of the grandeur of the production of the totality of objects of which the spectacle is an apologetic catalogue. Irreconcilable claims crowd the stage of the affluent economy’s unified spectacle; different star-commodities simultaneously support contradictory projects for provisioning society: the spectacle of automobiles demands a perfect transport network which destroys old cities, while the spectacle of the city itself requires museum-areas. Therefore the already problematic satisfaction which is supposed to come from the consumption of the whole, is falsified immediately since the actual consumer can directly touch only a succession of fragments of this commodity happiness, fragments in which the quality attributed to the whole is obviously missing every time.
66. Every given commodity fights for itself, cannot acknowledge the others, and attempts to impose itself everywhere as if it were the only one. The spectacle, then, is the epic poem of this struggle, an epic which cannot be concluded by the fall of any Troy. The spectacle does not sing the praises of men and their weapons, but of commodities and their passions. In this blind struggle every commodity. pursuing its passion, unconsciously realizes something higher: the becoming-world of the commodity, which is also the becoming-commodity of the world. Thus, by means of a ruse of commodity logic, what’s specific in the commodity wears itself out in the fight while the commodity-form moves toward its absolute realization.
67. The satisfaction which no longer comes from the use of abundant commodities is now sought in the recognition of their value as commodities: the use of commodities becomes sufficient unto itself; the consumer is filled with religious fervor for the sovereign liberty of the commodities. Waves of enthusiasm for a given product, supported and spread by all the media of communication, are thus propagated with lightning speed. A style of dress emerges from a film; a magazine promotes night spots which launch various clothing fads. Just when the mass of commodities slides toward puerility, the puerile itself becomes a special commodity; this is epitomized by the gadget. We can recognize a mystical abandon to the transcendence of the commodity in free gifts, such as key chains which are not bought but are included by advertisers with prestigious purchases, or which flow by exchange in their own sphere. One who collects the key chains which have been manufactured for collection, accumulates the indulgences of the commodity, a glorious sign of his real presence among the faithful. Reified man advertises the proof of his intimacy with the commodity. The fetishism of commodities reaches moments of fervent exaltation similar to the ecstasies of the convulsions and miracles of the old religious fetishism. The only use which remains here is the fundamental use of submission.
68. The pseudo-need imposed by modern consumption clearly cannot be opposed by any genuine need or desire which is not itself shaped by society and its history. The abundant commodity stands for the total breach in the organic development of social needs. Its mechanical accumulation liberates unlimited artificiality, in the face of which living desire is helpless. The cumulative power of independent artificiality saws everywhere the falsification of social life.
69. In the image of the society happily unified by consumption, real division is only suspended until the next non-accomplishment in consumption. Every single product represents the hope for a dazzling shortcut to the promised land of total consumption and is ceremoniously presented as the decisive entity. But as with the diffusion of seemingly aristocratic first names carried by almost all individuals of the same age, the objects which promise unique powers can be recommended to the devotion of the masses only if they’re produced in quantities large enough for mass consumption. A product acquires prestige when it is placed at the center of social life as the revealed mystery of the ultimate goal of production. But the object which was prestigious in the spectacle becomes vulgar as soon as it is taken home by its consumer–and by all its other consumers. It reveals its essential poverty (which naturally comes to it from the misery of its production) too late. But by then another object already carries the justification of the system and demands to be acknowledged.
70. The fraud of satisfaction exposes itself by being replaced, by following the change of products and of the general conditions of production. That which asserted its definitive excellence with perfect impudence nevertheless changes, both in the diffuse and the concentrated spectacle, and it is the system alone which must continue: Stalin as well as the outmoded commodity are denounced precisely by those who imposed them. Every new lie of advertising is also an avowal of the previous lie. The fall of every figure with totalitarian power reveals the illusory community which had approved him unanimously, and which had been nothing more than an agglomeration of solitudes without illusions.
71. What the spectacle offers as eternal is based on change and must change with its base. The spectacle is absolutely dogmatic and at the same time cannot really achieve any solid dogma. Nothing stops for the spectacle; this condition is natural to it, yet completely opposed to its inclination.
72. The unreal unity proclaimed by the spectacle masks the class division on which the real unity of the capitalist made of production rests. What obliges the producers to participate in the construction of the world is also what separates them from it. What brings together men liberated from their local and national boundaries is also what pulls them apart. What requires a mare profound rationality is also what nourishes the irrationality of hierarchic exploitation and repression. What creates the abstract power of society creates its concrete unfreedom.
Chapter 4 “The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation”
The equal right of all to the goods and enjoyment of this world, the destruction of all authority, the negation of all moral restraints – these, at bottom, are the raison d’etre of the March 18th insurrection and the charter of the fearsome organization that furnished it with an army.
Enquete parlementaire sur l’insurrection du 18 mars
73. The real movement which suppresses existing conditions rules over society from the moment of the bourgeoisie’s victory in the economy, and visibly after the political translation of this victory. The development of productive forces shatters the old relations of production and all static order turns to dust. Whatever was absolute becomes historical.
74. By being thrown into history, by having to participate in the labor and struggles which make up history, men find themselves obliged to view their relations in a clear manner. This history has no object distinct from what takes place within it, even though the last unconscious metaphysical vision of the historical epoch could look at the productive progression through which history has unfolded as the very object of history. The subject of history can be none other than the living producing himself, becoming master and possessor of his world which is history, and existing as consciousness of his game.
75. The class struggles of the long revolutionary epoch inaugurated by the rise of the bourgeoisie, develop together with the thought of history,the dialectic, the thought which no longer stops to look for the meaning of what is, but rises to a knowledge of the dissolution of all that is, and in its movement dissolves all separation.
76. Hegel no longer had to interpretthe world, but the transformation of the world. By only interpreting the transformation, Hegel is only the philosophical completion of philosophy. He wants to understand a world which makes itself. This historical thought is as yet only the consciousness which always arrives too late, and which pronounces the justification after the fact. Thus it has gone beyond separation only in thought.The paradox which consists of making the meaning of all reality depend on its historical completion, and at the same time of revealing this meaning as it makes itself the completion of history, flows from the simple fact that the thinker of the bourgeois revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries sought in his philosophy only a reconciliation with the results of these revolutions. Even as a philosophy of the bourgeois revolution, it does not express the entire process of this revolution, but only its final conclusion. In this sense, it is not a philosophy of the revolution, but of the restoration” (Karl Korsch,Theses on Hegel and Revolution). Hegel did, for the last time, the work of the philosopher, ” the glorification of what exists”; but what existed for him could already be nothing less than the totality of historical movement. The external position of thought having in fact been preserved, it could he masked only by the identification of thought with an earlier project of Spirit, absolute hero who did what he wanted and wanted what he did, and whose accomplishment coincides with the present. Thus philosophy, which dies in the thought of history, can now glorify its world only by renouncing it, since in order to speak, it must presuppose that this total history to which it has reduced everything is already complete, and that the only tribunal where the judgment of truth could be given is closed.
77. When the proletariat demonstrates by its own existence, through acts, that this thought of history is not forgotten, the exposure of the conclusion is at the same time the confirmation of the method.
78. The thought of history can be saved only by becoming practical thought; and the practice of the proletariat as a revolutionary class cannot be less than historical consciousness operating on the totality of its world. All the theoretical currents of the revolutionary workers’ movement grew out of a critical confrontation with Hegelian thought–Stirner and Bakunin as well as Marx.
79. The inseparability of Marx’s theory from the Hegelian method is itself inseparable from the revolutionary character of this theory, namely from its truth. This first relationship has been generally ignored, misunderstood, and even denounced as the weakness of what fallaciously became a marxist doctrine. Bernstein, in his Evolutionary Socialism: A Criticism and Affirmation (Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus und die Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie), perfectly reveals the connection between the dialectical method and historical partisanship, by deploring the unscientific forecasts of the 1847Manifesto on the imminence of proletarian revolution in Germany: “This historical self-deception, so erroneous that any political visionary could hardly have improved on it, would be incomprehensible in a Marx, who at that time had already seriously studied economics, if we did not see in this the product of a relic of the antithet ical Hegelian d ialectic from which Marx, no less than Engels, could never completely free himself. In those times of general effervescence, this was all the more fatal to him.”
80. The inversion carried out by Marx to “recover through transfer” the thought of the bourgeois revolutions does not trivially consist of putting the materialist development of produc- tive forces in the place of the journey of the Hegelian Spirit moving towards its encounter with itself in time, its objectification being identical to its alienation, and its historical wounds leaving no scars. History become real no longer has an end. Marx ruined Hegel’s position as separate from what happens, as well as contemplation by any supreme external agent whatever. From now on, theory has to know only what it does. As opposed to this, contemplation of the economy’s movement within the dominant thought of the present society is the untranscended heritage of the undialectical part of Hegel’s search for a circular system: it is an approval which has lost the dimension of the concept and which no longer needs a Hegelianism to justify itself, because the movement which it praises is no more than a sector without a world view, a sector whose mechanical development effectively dominates the whole. Marx’s project is the project of a conscious history. The quantitative which arises in the blind development of merely economic productive forces must be transformed into a qualitative historical appropriation. The critique of political economy is the first act of this end of prehistory: “Of all the instruments of production the greatest productive power is the revolutionary class itself.”
81. What closely links Marx’s theory with scientific thought is the rational understanding of the forces which really operate in society. But Marx’s theory is fundamentally beyond scientific thought, and it preserves scientific thought only by superseding it: what is in question is an understanding of struggle, and not of law. “We know only one science: the science of history” (The German Ideology).
82. The bourgeois epoch, which wants to give a scientific foundation to history, overlooks the fact that this available science needed a historical foundation along with the economy. Inversely, history directly depends on economic knowledge only to the extent that it remains economic history. The extent to which the viewpoint of scientific observation could overlook the role of history in the economy (the global process which modifies its own basic scientific premises) is shown by the vanity of those socialist calculations which thought they had established the exact periodicity of crises. Now that the constant intervention of the State has succeeded in compensating for the effect of tendencies toward crisis, the same type of reasoning sees in this equilibrium a definitive economic harmony’. The project of mastering the economy, the project of appropriating history, if it must know–and absorb–the science of society, cannot itself be scientific. The revolutionary viewpoint of a movement which thinks it can dominate current history by means of scientific knowledge remains bourgeois.
83. The utopian currents of socialism, although themselves historically grounded in the critique of the existing social organization, can rightly be called utopian to the extent that they reject history–namely the real struggle taking place, as well as the passage of time beyond the immutable perfection of their picture of a happy society–but not because they reject science. On the contrary. the utopian thinkers are completely dominated by the scientific thought of earlier centuries. They sought the completion of this general rational system: they did not in any way consider themselves disarmed prophets, since they believed in the social power of scientific proof and even, in the case of Saint-Simonism, in the seizure of power by science. “How did they want to seize through struggle what must be proved?” asked Sombart. The scientific conception of the utopians did not extend to the knowledge that some social groups have interests in the existing situation, forces to maintain it, and also forms of false consciousness corresponding to such positions. This conception did not even reach the historical reality of the development of science itself, which was oriented largely by the social demand of agents who selected not only what could be admitted, but also what could be studied. The utopian socialists, remaining prisoners of the mode of exposition of scientific truth, conceived this truth in terms of its pure abstract image–an image which had been imposed at a much earlier stage of society. As Sorel observed, it is on the model of astronomy that the utopians thought they would discover and demonstrate the laws of society. The harmony envisaged by them, hostile to history, grows out of the attempt to apply to society the science least dependent on history. This harmony is introduced with the experimental innocence of Newtonianism, and the happy destiny which is constantly postulated “plays in their social science a role analogous to the role of inertia in rational” (Materiaux pour une theorie du proletariat).
84. The deterministic-scientific facet in Marx’s thought was precisely the gap through which the process of “ideologization” penetrated, during his own lifetime, into the theoretical heritage left to the workers’ movement. The arrival of the historical subject continues to be postponed, and it is economics, the historical science par excellence, which tends increasingly to guarantee the necessity of its own future negation. But what is pushed out of the field of theoretical vision in this manner is revolutionary practice, the only truth of this negation. What becomes important is to study economic development with patience, and to continue to accept suffering with a Hegelian tranquility, so that the result remains “a graveyard of good intentions.” It is suddenly discovered that, according to the science of revolution,consciousness always comes too soon, and has to be taught. “History has shown that we, and all who thought as we did, were wrong. History has clearly shown that the state of economic development on the continent at that time was far from being ripe” Engels was to say in 1895. Throughout his life, Marx had maintained a unitary point of view in his theory, but the exposition of the theory was carried out on the terrain of the dominant thought and became precise in the form of critiques of particular disciplines, principally the critique of the fundamental science of bourgeois society, political economy. It is this mutilation, later accepted as definitive, which has constituted “marxism.”
85. The weakness of Marx’s theory is naturally the weakness of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of his time. The working class did not set off the permanent revolution in the Germany of 1848; the Commune was defeated in isolation. Revolutionary theory thus could not yet achieve its own total existence. The fact that Marx was reduced to defending and clarifying it with cloistered, scholarly work, in the British Museum, caused a loss in the theory itself. The scientific justifications Marx elaborated about the future development of the working class and the organizational practice that went with them became obstacles to proletarian consciousness at a later stage.
86. All the theoretical insufficiencies of content as well as form of exposition of the scientific defense of proletarian revolution can be traced to the identification of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie from the standpoint of the revolutionary seizure of power.
87. By grounding the proof of the scientific validity of proletarian power on repeated past attempts, Marx obscured his historical thought, from the Manifesto on, and was forced to support a linear image of the development of modes of production brought on by class struggles which end, each time, “with a revolutionary transformation of the entire society or with mutual destruction of the classes in struggle.” But in the observable reality of history, as Marx pointed out elsewhere, the “Asiatic mode of production” preserved its immobility in spite of all class confrontations, just as the serf uprisings never defeated the landlords, nor the slave revolts of Antiquity the free men. The linear schema Hoses sight of the fact that the bourgeoisie is the only revolutionary class that ever won; at the same time it is the only class for which the development of the economy was the cause and the consequence of its taking hold of society. The same simplification led Marx to neglect the economic role of the State in the management of a class society. If the rising bourgeoisie seemed to liberate the economy from the State, this took place only to the extent that the former State was an instrument of class oppression in a static economy. The bourgeoisie developed its autonomous economic power in the medieval period of the weakening of the State, at the moment of feudal fragmentation of balanced powers. But the modern State which, through Mercantilism, began to support the development of the bourgeoisie, and which finally became its State at the time of “laisser faire, laisser passer,” was to reveal later that it was endowed with the central power of calculated management of the economic process. With the concept of Bonapartism, Marx was nevertheless able to describe the shape of the modern statist bureaucracy, the fusion of capital and State, the formation of a “national power of capital over labor, a public force organized for social enslavement,” where the bourgeoisie renounces all historical life which is not reduced to the economic history of things and would like to “be condemned to the same political nothingness as other classes,” Here the socio-political foundations of the modern spectacle are already established, negatively defining the proletariat as the only pretender to historical life.
88. The only two classes which effectively correspond to Marx’s theory, the two pure classes towards which the entire analysis of Capital leads, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, are also the only two revolutionary classes in history, but in very different conditions: the bourgeois revolution is over; the proletarian revolution is a project born on the foundation of the preceding revolution but differing from it qualitatively. By neglecting the originality of the historical role of the bourgeoisie, one masks the concrete originality of the proletarian project, which can attain nothing unless it carries its own banners and knows the “immensity of its tasks.” The bourgeoisie came to power because it is the class of the developing economy. The proletariat cannot itself come to power except by becoming the class of consciousness. The growth of productive forces cannot guarantee such power, even by way of the increasing dispossession which it brings about. A Jacobin seizure of power cannot be its instrument. No ideology can help the proletariat disguise its partial goals as general goals, because the proletariat cannot preserve any partial reality which is really its own.
89. If Marx, in a given period of his participation in the struggle of the proletariat, expected too much from scientific forecasting, to the point of creating the intellectual foundation for the illusions of economism, it is known that he did not personally succumb to those illusions. In a well-known letter of December 7, 1867, accompanying an article where he himself criticized Capital, an article which Engels would later present to the press as the work of an adversary, Marx clearly disclosed the limits of his own science: ” . . . The subjective tendency of the author (which was perhaps imposed on him by his political position and his past), namely the manner in which he views and presents to others the ultimate results of the real movement, the real social process, has no relation to his own actual analysis.” Thus Marx, by denouncing the “tendentious conclusions” of his own objective analysis, and by the irony of the “perhaps” with reference to the extra-scientific choices imposed on him, at the same time shows the methodological key to the fusion of the two aspects.
90. The fusion of knowledge and action must be realized in the historical struggle itself, in such a way that each of these terms guarantees the truth of the other. The formation of the proletarian class into a subject means the organization of revolutionary struggles and the organization of society at the revolutionary moment: it is then that the practical conditions of consciousness must exist, conditions in which the theory of praxis is confirmed by becoming practical theory. However, this central question of organization was the question least developed by revolutionary theory at the time when the workers’ movement was founded, namely when this theory still had the unitary character which came from the thought of history. (Theory had undertaken precisely this task in order to develop a unitary historical practice.) This question is in fact the locus of inconsistency of this theory, allowing the return of statist and hierarchic methods of application borrowed from the bourgeois revolution. The forms of organization of the workers’ movement which were developed on the basis of this renunciation of theory have in turn prevented the maintenance of a unitary theory, breaking it up into varied specialized and partial disciplines. Due to the betrayal of unitary historical thought, this ideological estrangement from theory can no longer recognize the practical verification of this thought when such verification emerges in spontaneous struggles of workers; all it can do is repress every manifestation and memory of such verification. Yet these historical forms which appeared in struggle are precisely the practical milieu which the theory needed in order to be true. They are requirements of the theory which have not been formulated theoretically. The soviet was not a theoretical discovery; yet its existence in practice was already the highest theoretical truth of the International Workingmen’s Association.
91. The first successes of the struggle of the International led it to free itself from the confused influences of the dominant ideology which survived in it. But the defeat and repression which it soon encountered brought to the foreground a conflict between two conceptions of the proletarian revolution. Both of these conceptions contain an authoritarian dimension and thus abandon the conscious self-emancipation of the working class. In effect, the quarrel between Marxists and Bakuninists (which became irreconcilable) was two-edged, referring at once to power in the revolutionary society and to the organization of the present movement, and when the positions of the adversaries passed from one aspect to the other, they reversed themselves. Bakunin fought the illusion of abolishing classes by the authoritarian use of state power, foreseeing the reconstitution of a dominant bureaucratic class and the dictatorship of the most knowledgeable, or those who would be reputed to be such. Marx thought that the growth of economic contradictions inseparable from democratic education of the workers would reduce the role of the proletarian State to a simple phase of legalizing the new social relations imposing themselves objectively, and denounced Bakunin and his followers for the authoritarianism of a conspiratorial elite which deliberately placed itself above the International and formulated the extravagant design of imposing on society the irresponsible dictatorship of those who are most revolutionary, or those who would designate themselves to be such. Bakunin, in fact, recruited followers on the basis of such a perspective: “Invisible pilots in the center of the popular storm, we must direct it, not with a visible power, but with the collective dictatorship of all the allies. A dictatorship without badge, without title, without official right, yet all the more powerful because it will have none of the appearances of power.” Thus two ideologies of the workers’ revolution opposed each other, each containing a partially true critique, but losing the unity of the thought of history, and instituting themselves into ideological authorities. Powerful organizations, like German Social-Democracy and the Iberian Anarchist Federation faithfully served one or the other of these ideologies; and everywhere the result was very different from what had been desired.
92. The strength and the weakness of the real anarchist struggle resides in its viewing the goal of proletarian revolution as immediately present (the pretensions of anarchism in its individualist variants have always been laughable). From the historical thought of modern class struggles collectivist anarchism retains only the conclusion, and its exclusive insistence on this conclusion is accompanied by deliberate contempt for method. Thus its critique of the political struggle has remained abstract, while its choice of economic struggle is affirmed only as a function of the illusion of a definitive solution brought about by one single blow on this terrain–on the day of the general strike or the insurrection. The anarchists have an ideal to realize. Anarchism remains a merely ideological negation of the State and of classes, namely of the social conditions of separate ideology. It is the ideology of pure liberty which equalizes everything and dismisses the very idea of historical evil. This viewpoint which fuses all partial desires has given anarchism the merit of representing the rejection of existing conditions in favor of the whole of life, and not of a privileged critical specialization; but this fusion is considered in the absolute, according to individual caprice, before its actual realization, thus condemning anarchism to an incoherence too easily seen through. Anarchism has merely to repeat and to replay the same simple, total conclusion in every single struggle, because this first conclusion was from the beginning identified with the entire outcome of the movement. Thus Bakunin could write in 1873, when he left the Federation Jurassiene: “During the past nine years, more ideas have been developed within the International than would be needed to save the world, if ideas alone could save it, and I challenge anyone to invent a new one. It is no longer the time for ideas, but for facts and acts.” There is no doubt that this conception retains an element of the historical thought of the proletariat, the certainty that ideas must become practice, but it leaves the historical terrain by assuming that the adequate forms for this passage to practice have already been found and will never change.
93. The anarchists, who distinguish themselves explicitly from the rest of the workers’ movement by their ideological conviction, reproduce this separation of competences among themselves; they provide a terrain favorable to informal domination over all anarchist organizations by propagandists and defenders of their ideology, specialists who are in general more mediocre the more their intellectual activity consists of the repetition of certain definitive truths. Ideological respect for unanimity of decision has on the whole been favorable to the uncontrolled authority, within the organization itself, of specialists in freedom;and revolutionary anarchism expects the same type of unanimity from the liberated population, obtained by the same means. Furthermore, the refusal to take into account the opposition between the conditions of a minority grouped in the present struggle and of a society of free in dividuals, has nourished a permanent separation among anarchists at the moment of common decision, as is shown by an infinity of anarchist insurrections in Spain, confined and destroyed on a local level.
94. The illusion entertained more or less explicitly by genuine anarchism is the permanent imminence of an instantaneously accomplished revolution which will prove the truth of the ideology and of the mode of practical organization derived from the ideology. In 1936, anarchism in fact led a social revolution, the most advanced model of proletarian power in all time. In this context it should be noted that the signal for a general insurrection had been imposed by a pronunciamiento of the army. Furthermore, to the extent that this revolution was not completed during the first days (because of the existence of Franco’s power in half the country, strongly supported from abroad while the rest of the international proletarian movement was already defeated, and because of remains of bourgeois forces or other statist workers’ parties within the camp of the Republic) the organized anarchist movement showed itself unable to extend the demi-victories of the revolution, or even to defend them. Its known leaders became ministers and hostages of the bourgeois State which destroyed the revolution only to lose the civil war.
95. The “orthodox Marxism” of the Second International is the scientific ideology of the socialist revolution: it identifies its whole truth with objective processes in the economy and with the progress of a recognition of this necessity by the working class educated by the organization. This ideology rediscovers the confidence in pedagogical demonstration which had characterized utopian socialism, but mixes it with a contemplative reference to the course of history: this attitude has lost as much of the Hegelian dimension of a total history as it has lost the immobile image of totality in the utopian critique (most highly developed by Fourier). This scientific attitude can do no more than revive a symmetry of ethical choices; it is from this attitude that the nonsense of Hilferding springs when he states that recognizing the necessity of socialism gives “no indication of the practical attitude to be adopted. For it is one thing to recognize a necessity, and it is quite another thing to put oneself at the service of this necessity” (Finanzkapital). Those who failed to recognize that for Marx and for the revolutionary proletariat the unitary thought of history was in no way distinct from the practical attitude to be adopted, regularly became victims of the practice they adopted.
96. The ideology of the social-democratic organization gave power to professors who educated the working class, and the form of organization which was adopted was the form most suitable for this passive apprenticeship. The participation of socialists of the Second International in political and economic struggles was admittedly concrete but profoundly uncritical. It was conducted in the name of revolutionary illusion by means of an obviously reformist practice. The revolutionary ideology was to be shattered by the very success of those who held it. The separate position of the movement’s deputies and journalists attracted the already recruited bourgeois intellectuals toward a bourgeois mode of life. Even those who had been recruited from the struggles of industrial workers and who were themselves workers, were transformed by the union bureaucracy into brokers of labor power who sold labor as a commodity, for a just price. If their activity was to retain some appearance of being revolutionary, capitalism would have had to be conveniently unable to support economically this reformism which it tolerated politically (in the legalistic agitation of the social-democrats). But such an antagonism, guaranteed by their science, was constantly belied by history.
97. Bernstein, the social-democrat furthest from political ideology and most openly attached to the methodology of bourgeois science, had the honesty to want to demonstrate the reality of this contradiction; the English workers’ reformist movement had also demonstrated it, by doing without revolutionary ideology. But the contradiction was definitively demonstrated only by historical development itself. Although full of illusions in other respects, Bernstein had denied that a crisis of capitalist production would miraculously force the hand of socialists who wanted to inherit the revolution only by this legitimate rite. The profound social upheaval which arose with the first world war, though fertile with the awakening of consciousness, twice demonstrated that the social-democratic hierarchy had not educated revolutionarily; and had in no way transformed the German workers into theoreticians: first when the vast majority of the party rallied to the imperialist war; next when, in defeat, it squashed the Spartakist revolutionaries. The ex-worker Ebert still believed in sin, since he admitted that he hated revolution “like sin.” The same leader showed himself a precursor of the socialist representation which soon after confronted the Russian proletariat as its absolute enemy; he even formulated exactly the same program for this new alienation: “Socialism means working a lot”.
98. Lenin, as a Marxist thinker, was no more than a consistent and faithful Kautskyist who applied the revolutionary ideology of “orthodox Marxism” to Russian conditions, conditions unfavorable to the reformist practice carried on elsewhere by the Second International. In the Russian context, the external management of the proletariat, acting by means of a disciplined clandestine party subordinated to intellectuals transformed into “professional revolutionaries,” becomes a profession which refuses to deal with the ruling professions of capitalist society (the Czarist political regime being in any case unable to offer such opportunities which are based on an advanced stage of bourgeois power). It therefore became the profession of the absolute management of society.
99. With the war and the collapse of the social-democratic international in the face of the war, the authoritarian ideological radicalism of the Bolsheviks spread all over the world. The bloody end of the democratic illusions of the workers’ movement transformed the entire world into a Russia, and Bolshevism, reigning over the first revolutionary breach brought on by this epoch of crisis, offered to proletarians of all lands its hierarchic and ideological model, so that they could “speak Russian” to the ruling class. Lenin did not reproach the Marxism of the Second International for being a revolutionary ideology, but for ceasing to be one.
100. The historical moment when Bolshevism triumphed for itself in Russia and when social-democracy fought victoriously for the old worldmarks the inauguration of the state of affairs which is at the heart of the domination of the modern spectacle: the representation of the working class radically opposes itself to the working class.
101. “In all previous revolutions,” wrote Rosa Luxemburg in Rote Fahne of December 21, 1918, “the combatants faced each other directly: class against class, program against program. In the present revolution, the troops protecting the old order do not intervene under the insignia of the ruling class, but under the flag of a ‘social-democratic party.’ If the central question of revolution had been posed openly and honestly: capitalism or socialism? the great mass of the proletariat would today have no doubts or hesitations.” Thus, a few days before its destruction, the radical current of the German proletariat discovered the secret of the new conditions which had been created by the preceding process (toward which the representation of the working class had greatly contributed): the spectacular organization of defense of the existing order, the social reign of appearances where no ” “central question” can any longer be posed “openly and honestly.” The revolutionary representation of the proletariat had at this stage become both the main factor and the central result of the general falsification of society.
102. The organization of the proletariat on the Bolshevik model which emerged from Russian backwardness and from the abandonment of revolutionary struggle by the workers’ movement of advanced countries, found in this backwardness all the conditions which carried this form of organization toward the counter-revolutionary inversion which it unconsciously contained at its source. The continuing retreat of the mass of the European workers’ movement in the face of the Hic Rhodus, hic salta of the 1918-1920 period, a retreat which included the violent destruction of its radical minority, favored the completion of the Bolshevik development and let this fraudulent outcome present itself to the world as the only proletarian solution. By seizing state monopoly over representation and defense of workers’ power, the Bolshevik party justified itself and became what it was: the party of the proprietors of the proletariat (essentially eliminating earlier forms of property).
103. During twenty years of unresolved theoretical debate, the varied tendencies of Russian social-democracy had examined all the conditions for the liquidation of Czarism: the weakness of the bourgeoisie, the weight of the peasant majority and the decisive role of a concentrated and combative but hardly numerous proletariat. The debate was resolved in practice by means of a factor which had not been present in the hypotheses: a revolutionary bureaucracy which directed the proletariat seized State power and gave society a new class domination. Strictly bourgeois revolution had been impossible; the “democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants” was mean- ingless; the proletarian power of the Soviets could not maintain itself simultaneously against the class of small landowners, against the national and international White react ion, and against its own representation externalized and alienated in the form of a workers’ party of absolute masters of State economy, expression, and soon of thought. The theory of permanent revolution of Trotsky and Parvus, which Lenin adopted in April 1917. was the only theory which became true for countries where the social development of the bourgeoisie was retarded, but this theory became true only after the introduction of the unknown factor: the class power of the bureaucracy. In the numerous arguments among the Bolshevik directors, Lenin was the most consistent defender of the concentration of dictatorial power in the hands of the supreme representatives of ideology. Lenin was right every time against his adversaries in that be supported the solution implied by earlier choices of absolute minority Power: the democracy which was kept from peasants by means of the state would have to be kept from workers as well, which led to keeping it from communist leaders of unions, from the entire party, and finally from leading party bureaucrats. At the Tenth Congress, when the Kronstadt Soviet had been defeated by arms and buried under calumny, Lenin pronounced against the leftist bureaucrats of the “Workers’ Opposition” the following conclusion (the logic of which Stalin later extended to a complete division of the world): “Here or there with a rifle, but not with opposition. . . We’ve had enough opposition.”
104. After Kronstadt, the bureaucracy–sole proprietor of a State Capitalism–consolidated its power internally by means of a temporary alliance with the peasantry (with the “new economic policy”) and externally by using workers regimented into the bureaucratic parties of the Third International as supports for Russian diplomacy, thus sabotaging the entire revolutionary movement and supporting bourgeois governments whose aid it needed in international politics (the power of the Kuonmintang in China in 1925-27, the Popular Front in Spain and in France, etc.). The bureaucratic society continued the consolidation by terrorizing the peasantry in order to implement the mast brutal primitive capitalist accumulation in history. The industrialization of the Stalin epoch revealed the reality behind the bureaucracy: the continuation of the power of the economy and the preservation of the essence of the market society commodity labor. The independent economy, which dominates society to the extent of reinstituting the class domination it needs for its awn ends, is thus confirmed. Which is to say that the bourgeoisie created an autonomous power which, so long as its autonomy lasts, can even do without a bourgeoisie. The totalitarian bureaucracy is not “the last owning class in history” in the sense of Bruna Rizzi; it is only a substitute ruling class for the commodity economy. Capitalist private property in decline is replaced by a simplified, less diversified surrogate which is condensed as collective property of the bureaucratic class. This underdeveloped ruling class is the expression of economic underdevelopment, and has no perspective other than to overcome the retardation of this development in certain regions of the world. It was the workers’ party organized according to the bourgeois model of separation which furnished the hierarchical-statist cadre for this supplementary edition of a ruling class. While in one of Stalin’s prisons, Anton Ciliga observed that “technical questions of organization turned out to be social questions”(Lenin and the Revolution).
105. Revolutionary ideology, the coherence of the separate, of which Leninism represents the greatest voluntaristic attempt, supervising a reality which rejects it, with Stalinism returns to its truth in incoherence. At that paint ideology is no longer a weapon, but a goal. The lie which is no longer challenged becomes lunacy. Reality as well as the goal dissolve in the totalitarian ideological proclamation: all it says is all there is. This is a local primitivism of the spectacle, whose role is nevertheless essential in the development of the world spectacle. The ideology which is materialized in this context has not economically transformed the world, as has capitalism which reached the stage of abundance; it has merely transformed perception by means of the police.
106. The totalitarian-ideological class in power is the power of a topsy-turvy world: the stranger it is, the more it claims not to exist, and its force serves above all to affirm its nonexistence. It is modest only on this point, because its official nonexistence must also coincide with the nec plus ultra of historical development which must at the same time be attributed to its infallible command. Extended everywhere, the bureaucracy must be the class invisible to consciousness; as a result all social life becomes insane. The social organization of the absolute lie flows from this fundamental contradiction.
107. Stalinism was the reign of terror within the bureaucratic class itself. The terrorism at the base of this class’s power must also strike this class because it possesses no juridical guarantee, no recognized existence as owning class, which it could extend to every one of its members. Its real property being hidden, the bureaucracy became proprietor by way of false consciousness. False consciousness can maintain its absolute power only by means of absolute terror, where all real motives are ultimately lost. The members of the bureaucratic class in power have a right of ownership over society only collectively, as participants in a fundamental lie: they have to play the role of the proletariat directing a socialist society; they have to be actors loyal to a script of ideological disloyalty. But effective participation in this falsehood requires that it be recognized as actual participation. No bureaucrat can support his right to power individually, since proving that he’s a socialist proletarian would mean presenting himself as the opposite of a bureaucrat, and proving that he’s a bureaucrat is impossible since the official truth of the bureaucracy is that it does not exist. Thus every bureaucrat depends absolutely on the central guarantee of the ideology which recognizes the collective participation in its “socialist power” of all the bureaucrats it does not annihilate. If all the bureaucrats taken together decide everything, the cohesion of their own class can be assured only by the concentration of their terrorist power in a single person. In this person resides the only practical truth of falsehood in power: the indisputable permanence of its constantly adjusted frontier. Stalin decides without appeal who is ultimately to be a possessing bureaucrat; in other words, who should be named “a proletarian in power” and who “a traitor in the pay of the Mikado or of Wall Street.” The bureaucratic atoms find the common essence of their right only in the person of Stalin. Stalin is the world sovereign who in this manner knows himself as the absolute person for whose consciousness there is no higher spirit. “The sovereign of the world has effective consciousness of what he is–the universal power of efficacy–in the destructive violence which he exerts against the Self of his subjects, the contrasting others.” Just as he is the power that defines the terrain of domination, he is “the power which ravages this terrain.”
108. When ideology, having become absolute through the possession of absolute power, changes from partial knowledge into totalitarian falsehood, the thought of history is so perfectly annihilated that history itself, even at the level of the most empirical knowledge, can no longer exist. The totalitarian bureaucratic society lives in a perpetual present where everything that happened exists for it only as a place accessible to its police. The project already formulated by Napoleon of “the ruler directing the energy of memory” has found its total concretization in a permanent manipulation of the past, not only of meanings but of facts as well. But the price paid for this emancipation from all historical reality is the loss of the rational reference which is indispensable to the historical society, capitalism. It is known how much the scientific application of insane ideology has cost the Russian economy, if only through the imposture of Lysenko. The contradiction of the totalitarian bureaucracy administering an industrialized society, caught between its need for rationality and its rejection of the rational, is one of its main deficiencies with regard to normal capitalist development. Just as the bureaucracy cannot resolve the question of agriculture the way capitalism had done, it is ultimately inferior to capitalism in industrial production, planned from the top and based on unreality and generalized falsehood.
109. Between the two world wars, the revolutionary workers’ movement was annihilated by the joint action of the Stalinist bureaucracy and of fascist totalitarianism which had borrowed its form of organization from the totalitarian party tried out in Russia. Fascism was an extremist defense of the bourgeois economy threatened by crisis and by proletarian subversion. Fascism is a state of siege in capitalist society, by means of which this society saves itself and gives itself stop-gap rationalization by making the State intervene massively in its management. But this rationalization is itself burdened by the immense irrationality of its means. Although fascism rallies to the defense of the main points of bourgeois ideology which has become conservative (the family, property, the moral order, the nation), reuniting the petty-bourgeoisie and the unemployed routed by crisis or deceived by the impotence of socialist revolution, it is not itself fundamentally ideological. It presents itself as it is: a violent resurrection of myth which demands participation in a community defined by archaic pseudo-values: race, blood, the leader. Fascism is technically-equipped archaism. Its decomposed ersatz of myth is revived in the spectacular context of the most modern means of conditioning and illusion. Thus it is one of the factors in the formation of the modern spectacle, and its role in the destruction of the old workers’ movement makes it one of the fundamental forces of present-day society. However, since fascism is also the most costly form of preserving the capitalist order, it usually had to leave the front of the stage to the great roles played by the capitalist States; it is eliminated by stronger and more rational forms of the same order.
110. Now that the Russian bureaucracy has finally succeeded in doing away with the remains of bourgeois property which hampered its rule over the economy, in developing this property for its own use, and in being recognized externally among the great powers, it wants to enjoy its world calmly and to suppress the arbitrary element which had been exerted over it: it denounces the Stalinism of its origin. But the denunciation remains Stalinist, arbitrary, unexplained and continually corrected, because the ideological lie at its origin can never be revealed. Thus the bureaucracy can liberalize neither culturally nor politically because its existence as a class depends on its ideological monopoly which, with all its weight, is its only title to property. The ideology has no doubt lost the passion of its positive affirmation, but the indifferent triviality which survives still has the repressive function of prohibiting the slightest competition, of holding captive the totality of thought. Thus the bureaucracy is bound to an ideology which is no longer believed by anyone. What used to be terrorist has become a laughing matter, but this laughing matter can maintain itself only by preserving, as a last resort, the terrorism it would like to be rid of. Thus precisely at the moment when the bureaucracy wants to demonstrate its superiority on the terrain of capitalism it reveals itself to be a poor relation of capitalism. Just as its actual history contradicts its claims and its vulgarly entertained ignorance contradicts its scientific pretentions, so its project of becoming a rival to the bourgeoisie in the production of commodity abundance is blocked by the fact that this abundance carries its implicit ideology within itself, and is usually accompanied by an indefinitely extended freedom of spectacular false choices, a pseudo-freedom which remains irreconcilable with the bureaucratic ideology.
111. At the present moment of its development, the bureaucracy’s title to ideological property is already collapsing internationally. The power which established itself nationally as a fundamentally internationalist model must admit that it can no longer pretend to maintain its false cohesion over and above every national frontier. The unequal economic development of some bureaucracies with competing interests, who succeeded in acquiring their “socialism” beyond the single country, has led to the public and total confrontation between the Russian lie and the Chinese lie. From this point on, every bureaucracy in power, or every totalitarian party which is a candidate to the power left behind by the Stalinist period in some national working classes, must follow its own path. The global decomposition of the alliance of bureaucratic mystification is further aggravated by manifestations of internal negation which began to be visible to the world with the East Berlin workers’ revolt, opposing the bureaucrats with the demand for “a government of steel workers,” manifestations which already once led all the way to the power of workers’ councils in Hungary. However, the global decomposition of the bureaucratic alliance is in the last analysis the least favorable factor for the present development of capitalist society. The bourgeoisie is in the process of losing the adversary which objectively supported it by providing an illusory unification of all negation of the existing order. This division of labor within the spectacle comes to an end when the pseudo-revolutionary role in turn divides. The spectacular element of the collapse of the workers’ movement will itself collapse.
112. The Leninist illusion has no contemporary base outside of the various Trotskyist tendencies. Here the identification of the proletarian project with a hierarchic organization of ideology stubbornly survives the experience of all its results. The distance which separates Trotskyism from a revolutionary critique of the present society allows Trotskyism to maintain a deferential attitude toward positions which were already false when they were used in a real combat. Trotsky remained basically in solidarity with the high bureaucracy until 1927, seeking to capture it so as to make it resume genuinely Bolshevik action externally (it is known that in order to conceal Lenin’s famous “testament” he went so far as to slanderously disavow his supporter Max Eastman, who had made it public). Trotsky was condemned by his basic perspective, because as soon as the bureaucracy recognizes itself in its result as a counterrevolutionary class internally, it must also choose, in the name of revolution, to be effectively counter-revolutionary externally,just as it is at home. Trotsky’s subsequent struggle for the Fourth International contains the same inconsistency. All his life he refused to recognize the bureaucracy as the power of a separate class, because during the second Russian revolution he became an unconditional supporter of the Bolshevik form of organization. When Lukacs, in 1923, showed that this form was the long-sought mediation between theory and practice, in which the proletarians are no longer “spectators” of the events which happen in their organization, but consciously choose and live these events, he described as actual merits of the Bolshevik party everything that the Bolshevik party was not. Except for his profound theoretical work, Lukacs was still an ideologue speaking in the name of the power most grossly external to the proletarian movement, believing and making believe that he, himself, with his entire personality, was within this power as if it were his own. But the sequel showed just how this power disowns and suppresses its lackeys; in Lukacs’ endless self-repudiations, just what he had identified with became visible and clear as a caricature: he had identified with the opposite of himself and of what he had supported in History and Class Consciousness. Lukacs is the best proof of the fundamental rule which judges all the intellectuals of this century: what they respect is an exact measure of their own despicable reality. Yet Lenin had hardly encouraged this type of illusion about his activity, considering that “a political party cannot examine its members to see if there are contradictions between their philosophy and the party program.” The real party whose imaginary portrait Lukacs had inopportunely drawn was coherent for only one precise and partial task: to seize State power.
113. The neo-Leninist illusion of present-day Trotskyism, constantly exposed by the reality of modern bourgeois as well as bureaucratic capitalist societies, naturally finds a favored field of application in “underdeveloped” countries which are formally independent. Here the illusion of some variant of state and bureaucratic socialism is consciously manipulated by local ruling classes as simply the ideology of economic development. The hybrid composition of these classes is more or less clearly related to their standing along the bourgeois- bureaucratic spectrum. Their games on an international scale with the two poles of existing capitalist power, as well as their ideological compromises (notably with Islam), express the hybrid reality of their social base and remove from this final byproduct of ideological socialism everything serious except the police. A bureaucracy establishes itself by staffing a national struggle and an agrarian peasant revolt; from that point on, as in China, it tends to apply the Stalinist model of industrialization in societies less developed than Russia was in 1917. A bureaucracy able to industrialize the nation can set itself up from among the petty-bourgeoisie, or out of army cadres who seize power, as in Egypt. A bureaucracy which sets itself up as a para-statist leadership during the struggle can, on certain questions, seek the equilibrium point of a compromise in order to fuse with a weak national bourgeoisie, as in Algeria at the beginning of its war of independence. Finally, in the former colonies of black Africa which remain openly tied to the American and European bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie constitutes itself (usually on the basis of the power of traditional tribal chiefs) by seizing the State. These countries, where foreign imperialism remains the real master of the economy, enter a stage where the compradores have gotten an indigenous State as compensation for their sale of indigenous products, a State which is independent in the face of the local masses but not in the face of imperialism. This is an artificial bourgeoisie which is not able to accumulate, but which simply squanders the share of surplus value from local labor which reaches it as well as the foreign subsidies from the States or monopolies which protect it. Because of the obvious incapacity of these bourgeois classes to fulfill the normal economic function of a bourgeoisie, each of them faces a subversion based on the bureaucratic model, more or less adapted to local peculiarities, and eager to seize the heritage of this bourgeoisie. But the very success of a bureaucracy in its fundamental project of industrialization necessarily contains the perpsective of its historical defeat: by accumulating capital it accumulates a proletariat and thus creates its own negation in a country where it did not yet exist.
114. In this complex and terrible development which has carried the epoch of class struggles toward new conditions, the proletariat of the industrial countries has completely lost the affirmation of its autonomous perspective and also, in the last analysis, its illusions, but not its being. It has not been suppressed. It remains irreducibly in existence within the intensified alienation of modern capitalism: it is the immense majority of workers who have lost all power over the use of their lives and who,once they know this,redefine themselves as the proletariat, as negation at work within this society. The proletariat is objectively reinforced by the progressive disappearance of the peasantry and by the extension of the logic of factory labor to a large sector of “services” and intellectual professions.Subjectively the proletariat is still far removed from its practical class consciousness, not only among white collar workers but also among wage workers who have as yet discovered only the impotence and mystification of the old politics. Nevertheless, when the proletariat discovers that its own externalized power collaborates in the constant reinforcement of capitalist society, not only in the form of its labor but also in the form of unions, of parties, or of the state power it had built to emancipate itself, it also discovers from concrete historical experience that it is the class totally opposed to all congealed externalization and all specialization of power. It carries the revolution which cannot let anything remain outside of itself, the demand for the permanent domination of the present over the past, and the total critique of separation. It is this that must find its suitable form in action. No quantitative amelioration of its misery, no illusion of hierarchic integration is a lasting cure for its dissatisfaction, because the proletariat cannot truly recognize itself in a particular wrong it suffered nor in the righting of a particular wrong. It cannot recognize itself in the righting of a large number of wrongs either, but only in the absolute wrong of being relegated to the margin of life.
115. The new signs of negation multiplying in the economically developed countries, signs which are misunderstood and falsified by spectacular arrangement, already enable us to draw the conclusion that a new epoch has begun: now, after the workers’ first attempt at subversion,it is capitalist abundance which has failed. When anti-union struggles of Western workers are repressed first of all by unions, and when the first amorphous protests launched by rebellious currents of youth directly imply the rejection of the old specialized politics, of art and of daily life, we see two sides of a new spontaneous struggle which begins under a criminal guise. These are the portents of a second proletarian assault against class society. When the last children of this still immobile army reappear on this battleground which was altered and yet remains the same, they follow a new “General Ludd” who, this time, urges them to destroy the machines of permitted consumption.
116. “The political farm at last discovered in which the economic emancipation of labor could be realized” has in this century acquired a clear outline in the revolutionary workers’ Councils which concentrate in themselves all the functions of decision and execution, and federate with each other by means of delegates responsible to the base and revocable at any moment. Their actual existence has as yet been no mare than a brief sketch, quickly opposed and defeated by various defensive farces of class society, among which their awn false consciousness must often be included. Pannekoek rightly insisted that choosing the power of workers’ Councils “poses problems” rather than providing a solution. Yet it is precisely in this power where the problems of the proletarian revolution can find their real solution. This is where the objective conditions of historical consciousness are reunited. This is where direct active communication is realized, where specialization, hierarchy and separation end, where the existing conditions have been transformed “into conditions of unity.” Here the proletarian subject can emerge from his struggle against con- templation: his consciousness is equal to the practical organization which it undertakes because this consciousness is itself inseparable from coherent intervention in history.
117. In the power of the Councils, which must internationally supplant all other power, the proletarian movement is its own product and this product is the producer himself. He is to himself his own goal. Only there is the spectacular negation of life negated in its turn.
118. The appearance of the Councils was the highest reality of the proletarian movement in the first quarter of this century, a reality which was not seen or was travestied because it disappeared along with the rest of the movement that was negated and eliminated by the entire historical experience of the time. At the new moment of proletarian critique, this result returns as the only undefeated point of the defeated movement. Historical consciousness, which knows that this is the only milieu where it can exist, can now recognize this reality, no longer at the periphery of what is ebbing, but at the center of what is rising.
119. A revolutionary organization existing before the power of the Councils (it will find its own farm through struggle), for all these historical reasons, already knows that it does not represent the working class. It must recognize itself as no more than a radical separation from the world of separation.
120. The revolutionary organization is the coherent expression of the theory of praxis entering into non-unilateral communication with practical struggles, in the process of becoming practical theory. Its own practice is the generalization of communication and of coherence in these struggles. At the revolutionary moment of dissolution of social separation, this organization must recognize its own dissolution as a separate organization.
121. The revolutionary organization can be nothing less than a unitary critique of society, namely a critique which does not compromise with any farm of separate power anywhere in the world, and a critique proclaimed globally against all the aspects of alienated social life. In the struggle between the revolutionary organization and class society, the weapons are nothing other than the essence of the combatants themselves: the revolutionary organization cannot reproduce within itself the dominant society’s conditions of separation and hierarchy. It must struggle constantly against its deformation in the ruling spectacle. The only limit to participation in the total democracy of the revolutionary organization is the recognition and self-appropriation of the coherence of its critique by all its members, a coherence which must be proved in the critical theory as such and in the relation between the theory and practical activity.
122. When constantly growing capitalist alienation at all levels makes it increasingly difficult for workers to recognize and name their own misery, forcing them to face the alternative of rejecting the totality of their misery or nothing, the revolutionary organization has to learn that it can no longer combat alienation with alienated forms.
123. Proletarian revolution depends entirely on the condition that, for the first time, theory as intelligence of human practice be recognized and lived by the masses. It requires workers to become dialecticians and to inscribe their thought into practice. Thus it demands of men without quality more than the bourgeois revolution demanded of the qualified men which it delegated to carry out its tasks (since the partial ideological consciousness constructed by a part of the bourgeois class was based on the economy, this central part of social life in which this class was already in power). The very development of class society to the stage of spectacular organization of non-life thus leads the revolutionary project to become visibly what it already was essentially.
124. Revolutionary theory is now the enemy of all revolutionary ideology and knows it.
Chapter 5 “Time and History”
O, gentlemen, the time of life is short!... And if we live, we live to tread on kings.
Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I
125. Man, “the negative being who is only to the extent that he suppresses Being,” is identical to time. Man’s appropriation of his own nature is at the same time his grasp of the unfolding of the universe. “History is itself a real part of natural history, of the transformation of nature into man” (Marx). Inversely, this “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe. History has always existed, but not always in a historical form. The temporalization of man as effected through the mediation of a society is equivalent to a humanization of time. The unconscious movement of time manifests itself and becomes true within historical consciousness.
126. Properly historical movement, although still hidden, begins in the slow and intangible formation of the “real nature of man,” this “nature born within human history–within the generating action of human society,” but even though that society developed a technology and a language and is already a product of its own history, it is conscious only of a perpetual present. There, all knowledge, confined within the memory of the oldest, is always carried by the living. Neither death nor procreation is grasped as a law of time. Time remains immobile, like an enclosed space. A more complex society which finally becomes conscious of time devotes itself to negating it because it sees in time not what passes, but only what returns. A static society organizes time in terms of its immediate experience of nature, on the model of cyclical time.
127. Cyclical time already dominates the experience of nomadic populations because they find the same conditions repeated at every moment of their journey: Hegel notes that “the wandering of nomads is only formal because it is limited to uniform spaces.” The society which, by fixing itself in place locally, gives space a content by arranging individualized places, thus finds itself enclosed inside this localization. The temporal return to similar places now becomes the pure return of time in the same place, the repetition of a series of gestures. The transition from pastoral nomadism to sedentary agriculture is the end of the lazy liberty without content, the beg inning of labor. The agrarian mode of production in general, dominated by the rhythm of the seasons, is the basis for fully constituted cyclical time. Eternity is internal to it; it is the return of the same here on earth. Myth is the unitary construction of the thought which guarantees the entire cosmic order surrounding the order which this society has in fact already realized within its frontiers.
128. The social appropriation of time, the production of man by human labor, develops within a society divided into classes. The power which constituted itself above the penury of the society of cyclical time, the class which organizes the social labor and appropriates the limited surplus value, simultaneously appropriates the temporal surplus value of its organization of social time: it possesses for itself alone the irreversible time of the living. The wealth that can be concentrated in the realm of power and materially used up in sumptuous feasts is also used up as a squandering of historical time at the surface of society. The owners of historical surplus value possess the knowledge and the enjoyment of lived events. Separated from the collective organization of time which predominates with the repetitive production at the base of social life, this time flows above its own static community. This is the time of adventure and war, when the masters of the cyclical society travel through their personal histories, and it is also the time which appears in confrontations with foreign communities, in the derangement of the unchangeable order of the society. History then passes before men as an alien factor, as that which they never wanted and against which they thought themselves protected. But by way of this detour returns the human negative anxiety which had been at the very origin of the entire development that had fallen asleep.
129. Cyclical time in itself is time without conflict. But conflict is installed within this infancy of time: history first struggles to be history in the practical activity of masters. This history superficially creates the irreversible; its movement constitutes precisely the time it uses up within the interior of the inexhaustible time of cyclical society.
130. “Frozen societies” are those which slowed down their historical activity to the limit and maintained in constant equilibrium their opposition to the natural and human environment as well as their internal oppositions. If the extreme diversity of institutions established for this purpose demonstrates the flexibility of the self-creation of human nature, this demonstration becomes obvious only for the external observer, for the anthropologist who returns from historical time. In each of these societies a definitive structuring excluded change. Absolute conformism in existing social practices. with which all human possibilities are identified for all time, has no external limit other than the fear of falling back into formless animality. Here, in order to remain human, men must remain the same.
131. The birth of political power which seems to be related to the last great technological revolutions (like iron smelting), at the threshold of a period which would not experience profound shocks until the appearance of industry, also marks the moment when kinship ties begin to dissolve. From then on, the succession of generations leaves the sphere of pure cyclical nature in order to become an event-oriented succession of powers. Irreversible time is now the time of those who rule, and dynasties are its first measure. Writing is its weapon. In writing, language attains its complete independent reality as mediation between consciousnesses. But this independence is identical to the general independence of separate power as the mediation which constitutes society. With writing there appears a consciousness which is no longer carried and transmitted directly among the living: an impersonal memory, the memory of the administration of society. “Writings are the thoughts of the State; archives are its memory” (Novalis).
132. The chronicle is the expression of the irreversible time of power and also the instrument that preserves the voluntaristic progression of this time from its predecessor, since this orientation of time collapses with the fall of every specific power and returns to the indifferent oblivion of cyclical time, the only time known to peasant masses who, during the collapse of empires and their chronologies, never change. The owners of history have given time a meaning: a direction which is also a significance. But this history deploys itself and succumbs separately, leaving the underlying society unchanged precisely because this history remains separated from the common reality. This is why we reduce the history of Oriental empires to the history of religions: the chronologies which have fallen to ruins left no more than the apparently autonomous history of the illusions which enveloped them. The masters who make history their private property, under the protection of myth, possess first of all a private ownership of the mode of illusion: in China and Egypt they long held a monopoly over the immortality of the soul, just as their famous early dynasties are imaginary arrangements of the past. But the masters’ possession of illusion is at that moment the only possible possession of a common history and of their own history. The growth of their real historical power goes together with a popularization of the possession of myth and illusion. All this flows from the simple fact that, to the extent that the masters took it upon themselves to guarantee the permanence of cyclical time mythically, as in the seasonal rites of Chinese emperors, they themselves achieved a relative liberation from cyclical time.
133. The dry unexplained chronology of divine power speaking to its servants, which wants to be understood only as the earthly execution of the commandments of myth, can be surmounted and become conscious history; this requires that real participation in history be lived by extended groups. Out of this practical communication among those who recognized each other as possessors of a singular present, who experienced the qualitative richness of events as their activity and as the place where they lived–their epoch–arises the general language of historical communication. Those for whom irreversible time has existed discover within it the memorable as well as the menace of forgetting: “Herodotus of Halicarnassus here presents the results of his study, so that time may not abolish the works of men...”
134. Reasoning about history is inseparably reasoning about power. Greece was the moment when power and its change were discussed and understood, the democracy of the masters of society. Greek conditions were the inverse of the conditions known to the despotic State, where power settles its accounts only with itself within the inaccessible obscurity of its densest point: through palace revolution, which is placed beyond the pale of discussion by success or failure alike. However, the power shared among the Greek communities existed only with the expenditure of a social life whose production remained separate and static within the servile class. Only those who do not work live. In the division among the Greek communities, and in the struggle to exploit foreign cities, the principle of separation which internally grounded each of them was externalized. Greece, which had dreamed of universal history, did not succeed in unifying itself in the face of invasion–or even in unifying the calendars of its independent cities. In Greece historical time became conscious, but not yet conscious of itself.
135. After the disappearance of the locally favorable conditions known to the Greek communities, the regression of western historical thought was not accompanied by a rehabilitation of ancient mythic organizations. Out of the confrontations of the Mediterranean populations, out of the formation and collapse of the Roman State, appeared semi-historical religions which became fundamental factors in the new consciousness of time, and in the new armor of separate power.
136. The monotheistic religions were a compromise between myth and history, between cyclical time which still dominated production and irreversible time where populations clash and regroup. The religions which grew out of Judaism are abstract universal acknowledgements of irreversible time which is democratized, opened to all, but in the realm of illusion. Time is totally oriented toward a single final event: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” These religions arose on the soil of history, and established themselves there. But there they still preserve themselves in radical opposition to history. Semi-historical religion establishes a qualitative point of departure in time (the birth of Christ, the flight of Mohammed), but its irreversible time–introducing real accumulation which in Islam can take the form of a conquest, or in Reformation Christianity the form of increased capital is actually inverted in religious thought and becomes a countdown: the hope of access to the genuine other world before time runs out, the expectation of the last Judgment. Eternity came out of cyclical time and is beyond it. Eternity is the element which holds back the irreversibility of time, suppressing history within history itself by placing itself on the other side of irreversible time as a pure punctual element to which cyclical time returned and abolished itself. Bossuet will still say: “And by means of the time that passes we enter into the eternity which does not pass.”
137. The Middle Ages, this incomplete mythical world whose perfection lay outside it, is the moment when cyclical time, which still regulates the greater part of production, is really chewed away by history. A certain irreversible temporality is recognized individually in everyone, in the succession of stages of life, in the consideration of life as a journey, a passage with no return through a world whose meaning lies elsewhere: the pilgrim is the man who leaves cyclical time and becomes in reality the traveller that everyone is symbolically. Personal historical life still finds its fulfillment within the sphere of power, within participation in struggles led by power and in struggles over disputed power; but the irreversible time of power is shared to infinity under the general unification of the oriented time of the Christian era, in a world of armed faith, where the game of the masters revolves around fidelity and disputes over owed fidelity. This feudal society, born out of the encounter of “the organizational structure of the conquering army as it developed during the conquest” with “the productive forces found in the conquered country” (German Ideology) and in the organization of these productive forces one must count their religious language divided the domination of society between the Church and the state power, in turn subdivided in the complex relations of suzerainty and vassalage of territorial tenures and urban communes. In this diversity of possible historical life, the irreversible time which silently carried off the underlying society, the time lived by the bourgeoisie in the production of commodities, in the foundation and expansion of cities and in the commercial discovery of the earth–practical experimentation which forever destroyed all mythical organization of the cosmos–slowly revealed itself as the unknown work of this epoch when the great official historical undertaking of this world collapsed with the Crusades.
138. During the decline of the Middle Ages, the irreversible time which invades society is experienced by the consciousness attached to the ancient order in the form of an obsession with death. This is the melancholy of the demise of a world, the last world where the security of myth still counterpoised history, and for this melancholy everything worldly moves only toward corruption. The great revolts of the European peasants are also their attempt to respond to history–which was violently wrenching the peasants out of the patriarchal sleep that had guaranteed their feudal tutelage. This millenarian utopia of achieving heaven on earth revives what was at the origin of semi-historical religion, when Christian communities which grew out of Judaic messianism responded to the troubles and unhappiness of the epoch by looking to the imminent realization of the Kingdom of God and brought a disquieting and subversive factor into ancient society. When Christianity reached the point of sharing power within the empire, it exposed what still survived of this hope as a simple superstition: that is the meaning of the Augustinian affirmation, archetype of all the satisfecit of modern ideology, according to which the established Church has already for a long time been this kingdom one spoke of. The social revolt of the millenarian peasantry defines itself naturally first of all as a will to destroy the Church. But millenarianism spreads in the historical world, and not on the terrain of myth. Modern revolutionary expectations are not irrational continuations of the religious passion of millenarianism, as Norman Cohn thought he had demonstrated in The Pursuit of the Millennium. On the contrary, it is millenarianism, revolutionary class struggle speaking the language of religion for the last time, which is already a modern revolutionary tendency that as yet lacks the consciousness that it is only historical. The millenarians had to lose because they could not recognize the revolution as their own operation. The fact that they waited to act on the basis of an external sign of God’s decision is the translation into thought of the practice of insurgent peasants following chiefs taken from outside their ranks. The peasant class could not attain an adequate consciousness of the functioning of society or of the way to lead its own struggle: because it lacked these conditions of unity in its action and consciousness, it expressed its project and led its wars with the imagery of an earthly paradise.
139. The new possession of historical life, the Renaissance, which finds its past and its legitimacy in Antiquity, carries with it a joyous rupture with eternity. Its irreversible time is that of the infinite accumulation of knowledge, and the historical consciousness which grows out of the experience of democratic communities and of the forces which ruin them will take up. with Machiavelli, the analysis of desanctified power, saying the unspeakable about the State. In the exuberant life of the Italian cities, in the art of the festival, life is experienced as enjoyment of the passage of time. But this enjoyment of passage is itself a passing enjoyment. The song of Lorenzo di Medici considered by Burckhardt to be the expression of “the very spirit of the Renaissance” is the eulogy which this fragile feast of history pronounces on itself: “How beautiful the spring of life which vanishes so quickly.”
140. The constant movement of monopolization of historical life by the State of the absolute monarchy, transitional form toward complete domination by the bourgeois class, brings into clear view the new irreversible time of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is attached to labor time, which is liberated for the first time from the cyclical. With the bourgeoisie, work becomes labor which transforms historical conditions. The bourgeoisie is the first ruling class for which labor is a value. And the bourgeoisie which suppresses all privilege, which recognizes no value that does not flow from the exploitation of labor, has justly identified with labor its own value as a dominant class, and has made the progress of labor its own progress. The class which accumulates commodities and capital continually modifies nature by modifying labor itself, by unleashing its productivity. All social life has already been concentrated within the ornamental poverty of the Court, the tinsel of the cold state administration which culminates in “the vocation of king”; and all particular historical liberty has had to consent to its defeat. The liberty of the irreversible temporal game of the nobles is consumed in their last lost battles, the wars of the Fronde and the rising of the Scotch for Charles-Edward. The world’s foundation has changed.
141. The victory of the bourgeoisie is the victory of profoundly historical time, because this is the time of economic production which transforms society, continuously and from top to bottom. So long as agrarian production remains the central activity, the cyclical time which remains at the base of society nourishes the coalesced forces of tradition which fetter all movement. But the irreversible time of the bourgeois economy eradicates these vestiges on every corner of the globe. History, which until then had seemed to be only the movement of individuals of the ruling class, and thus was written as the history of events, is now understood as the general movement, and in this relentless movement individuals are sacrificed. This history which discovers its foundation in political economy now knows of the existence of what had been its unconscious, but this still cannot be brought to light and remains unconscious. This blind prehistory, a new fatality dominated by no one, is all that the commodity economy democratized.
142. The history which is present in all the depths of society tends to be lost at the surface. The triumph of irreversible time is also its metamorphosis into the time of things, because the weapon of its victory was precisely the mass production of objects according to the laws of the commodity. The main product which economic development has transferred from luxurious scarcity to daily consumption is therefore history, but only in the form of the history of the abstract movement of things which dominates all qualitative use of life. While the earlier cyclical time had supported a growing part of historical time lived by individuals and groups, the domination of the irreversible time of production tends, socially, to eliminate this lived time.
143. Thus the bourgeoisie made known to society and imposed on it an irreversible historical time, but kept its use from society. “There was history, but there is no more,” because the class of owners of the economy, which cannot break with economic history, is directly threatened by all other irreversible use of time and must repress it. The ruling class, made up of specialists in the possession of things who are themselves therefore a possession of things, must link its fate with the preservation of this reified history, with the permanence of a new immobility within history. For the first time the worker, at the base of society, is not materially a stranger to history, because it is now the base that irreversibly moves society. In the demand to live the historical time which it makes, the proletariat finds the simple unforgettable center of its revolutionary project; and every attempt (thwarted until now) to realize this project marks a point of possible departure for new historical life.
144. The irreversible time of the bourgeoisie in power at first presented itself under its own name, as an absolute origin, Year One of the Republic. But the revolutionary ideology of general freedom which had destroyed the last remnants of the mythical organization of values and the entire traditional regulation of society, already made visible the real will which it had clothed in Roman dress: the freedom of generalized commerce. The commodity society, now discovering that it needed to reconstruct the passivity which it had profoundly shaken in order to set up its own pure reign, finds that “Christianity with its cultus of abstract man ... is the most fitting form of religion” (Capital). Thus the bourgeoisie establishes a compromise with this religion, a compromise which also expresses itself in the presentation of time: its own calendar abandoned, its irreversible time returns to unwind within the Christian era whose succession it continues.
145. With the development of capitalism, irreversible time is unified on a world scale. Universal history becomes a reality because the entire world is gathered under the development of this time. But this history, which is everywhere simultaneously the same, is still only the refusal within history of history itself. What appears the world over as the same day is the time of economic production cut up into equal abstract fragments. Unified irreversible time is the time of the world market and, as a corollary, of the world spectacle.
146. The irreversible time of production is first of all the measure of commodities. Therefore the time officially affirmed over the entire expanse of the globe as the general time of society refers only to the specialized interests which constitute it and is no more than a particular time.
Chapter 6 “Spectacular Time”
We have nothing that is ours except time, which even those without a roof can enjoy.
Baltasar Gracian, Oraculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia
147. The time of production, commodity-time, is an infinite accumulation of equivalent intervals. It is the abstraction of irreversible time, all of whose segments must prove on the chronometer their merely quantitative equality. This time is in reality exactly what it is in its exchangeable character. In this social domination by commodity-time, “time is everything, man is nothing; he is at most the carcass of time” (Poverty of Philosophy). This is time devalued, the complete inversion of time as “the field of human development.”
148. The general time of human non-development also exists in the complementary form of consumable time which returns as pseudo-cyclical time to the daily life of the society based on this determined production.
149. Pseudo-cyclical time is actually no more than the consumable disguise of the commodity-time of production. It contains the essential properties of commodity-time, namely exchangeable homogeneous units and the suppression of the qualitative dimension. But being the by-product of this time which aims to retard concrete daily life and to keep it retarded, it must be charged with pseudo-valuations and appear in a sequence of falsely individualized moments.
150. Pseudo-cyclical time is the time of consumption of modern economic survival, of increased survival, where daily life continues to be deprived of decision and remains bound, no longer to the natural order, but to the pseudo-nature developed in alienated labor; and thus this time naturally reestablishes the ancient cyclical rhythm which regulated the survival of preindustrial societies. Pseudo-cyclical time leans on the natural remains of cyclical time and also uses it to compose new homologous combinations: day and night, work and weekly rest, the recurrence of vacations.
151. Pseudo-cyclical time is a time transformed by industry. The time which has its basis in the production of commodities is itself a consumable commodity which includes everything that previously (during the phase of dissolution of the old unitary society) was differentiated into private life, economic life, political life. All the consumable time of modern society comes to be treated as a raw material for varied new products which impose themselves on the market as uses of socially organized time. “A product which already exists in a form which makes it suitable for consumption can nevertheless in its turn become a raw material for another product” (Capital).
152. In its most advanced sector, concentrated capitalism orients itself towards the sale of “completely equipped” blocks of time, each one constituting a single unified commodity which integrates a number of diverse commodities. In the expanding economy of “services” and leisure, this gives rise to the formula of calculated payment in which “everything’s included”: spectacular environment, the collective pseudo-displacement of vacations, subscriptions to cultural consumption, and the sale of sociability itself in the form of “passionate conversations” and “meetings with personalities.” This sort of spectacular commodity, which can obviously circulate only because of the increased poverty of the corresponding realities, just as obviously fits among the pilot-articles of modernized sales techniques by being payable on credit.
153. Consumable pseudo-cyclical time is spectacular time, both as the time of consumption of images in the narrow sense, and as the image of consumption of time in the broad sense. The time of image-consumption, the medium of all commodities, is inseparably the field where the instruments of the spectacle exert themselves fully, and also their goal, the location and main form of all specific consumption: it is known that the time-saving constantly sought by modern society, whether in the speed of vehicles or in the use of dried soups, is concretely translated for the population of the United States in the fact that the mere contemplation of television occupies it for an average of three to six hours a day. The social image of the consumption of time, in turn, is exclusively dominated by moments of leisure and vacation, moments presented at a distance and desirable by definition, like every spectacular commodity. Here this commodity is explicitly presented as the moment of real life, and the point is to wait for its cyclical return. But even in those very moments reserved for living, it is still the spectacle that is to be seen and reproduced, becoming ever more intense. What was represented as genuine life reveals itself simply as more genuinely spectacular life.
154. The epoch which displays its time to itself as essentially the sudden return of multiple festivities is also an epoch without festivals. What was, in cyclical time, the moment of a community’s participation in the luxurious expenditure of life is impossible for the society without community or luxury. When its vulgarized pseudo-festivals, parodies of the dialogue and the gift, incite a surplus of economic expenditure, they lead only to deception always compensated by the promise of a new deception. In the spectacle, the lower the use value of modern survival-time, the more highly it is exalted. The reality of time has been replaced by the advertisement of time.
155. While the consumption of cyclical time in ancient societies was consistent with the real labor of those societies, the pseudo-cyclical consumption of the developed economy is in contradiction with the abstract irreversible time of its production. While cyclical time was the time of immobile illusion, really lived, spectacular time is the time of self-changing reality, lived in illusion.
156. What is constantly new in the process of production of things is not found in consumption, which remains the expanded repetition of the same. In spectacular time, since dead labor continues to dominate living labor, the past dominates the present.
157. Another side of the deficiency of general historical life is that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events which rush by in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those informed of them; moreover they are lost in the inflation of their hurried replacement at every throb of the spectacular machinery. Furthermore, what is really lived has no relation to the official irreversible time of society and is in direct opposition to the pseudo-cyclical rhythm of the consumable by-product of this time. This individual experience of separate daily life remains without language, without concept, without critical access to its own past which has been recorded nowhere. It is not communicated. It is not understood and is forgotten to the profit of the false spectacular memory of the unmemorable.
158. The spectacle, as the present social organization of the paralysis of history and memory, of the abandonment of history built on the foundation of historical time, is the false consciousness of time.
159. The preliminary condition required for propelling workers to the status of “free” producers and consumers of commodity time was the violent expropriation of their own time. The spectacular return of time became possible only after this first dispossession of the producer.
160. The irreducibly biological element which remains in labor, both in the dependence on the natural cycle of waking and sleep and in the existence of irreversible time in the expenditure of an individual life, is a mere accessory from the point of view of modern production; consequently, these elements are ignored in the official proclamations of the movement of production and in the consumable trophies which are the accessible translation of this incessant victory. The spectator’s consciousness, immobilized in the falsified center of the movement of its world, no longer experiences its life as a passage toward self-realization and toward death. One who has renounced using his life can no longer admit his death. Life insurance advertisements suggest merely that he is guilty of dying without ensuring the regularity of the system after this economic loss; and the advertisement of the American way of death insists on his capacity to maintain in this encounter the greatest possible number of appearances of life. On all other fronts of the advertising onslaught, it is strictly forbidden to grow old. Even a “youth-capital,” contrived for each and all and put to the most mediocre uses, could never acquire the durable and cumulative reality of financial capital. This social absence of death is identical to the social absence of life.
161. Time, as Hegel showed, is the necessary alienation, the environment where the subject realizes himself by losing himself, where he becomes other in order to become truly himself. Precisely the opposite is true in the dominant alienation, which is undergone by the producer of an alien present. In this spatial alienation, the society that radically separates the subject from the activity it takes from him, separates him first of all from his own time. It is this surmountable social alienation that has prohibited and petrified the possibilities and risks of the living alienation of time.
162. Under the visible fashions which disappear and reappear on the trivial surface of contemplated pseudo-cyclical time, the grand style of the age is always located in what is oriented by the obvious and secret necessity of revolution.
163. The natural basis of time, the actual experience of the flow of time, becomes human and social by existing for man. The restricted condition of human practice, labor at various stages, is what has humanized and also dehumanized time as cyclical and as separate irreversible time of economic production. The revolutionary project of realizing a classless society, a generalized historical life, is the project of a withering away of the social measure of time, to the benefit of a playful model of irreversible time of individuals and groups, a model in which independent federated times are simultaneously present. It is the program of a total realization, within the context of time, of communism which suppresses “all that exists independently of individuals.”
164. The world already possesses the dream of a time whose consciousness it must now possess in order to actually live it.
Chapter 7 “The Organization of Territory”
And he who becomes master of a city used to being free and does not destroy her can expect to be destroyed by her, because always she has as pretext in rebellion the name of liberty and her old customs, which never through either length of time or benefits are forgotten, and in spite of anything that can be done or foreseen, unless citizens are disunited or dispersed, they do not forget that name and those institutions...
Machiavelli, The Prince
165. Capitalist production has unified space, which is no longer bounded by external societies. This unification is at the same time an extensive and intensive process of banalization. The accumulation of commodities produced in mass for the abstract space of the market, which had to break down all regional and legal barriers and all the corporative restrictions of the Middle Ages that preserved the quality of craft production, also had to destroy the autonomy and quality of places. This power of homogenization is the heavy artillery which brought down all Chinese walls.
166. In order to become ever more identical to itself, to get as close as possible to motionless monotony, the free space of the commodity is henceforth constantly modified and reconstructed.
167. This society which eliminates geographical distance reproduces distance internally as spectacular separation.
168. Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption, a by-product of the circulation of commodities, is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal. The economic organization of visits to different places is already in itself the guarantee of their equivalence. The same modernization that removed time from the voyage also removed from it the reality of space.
169. The society that molds all of its surroundings has developed a special technique for shaping its very territory, the solid ground of this collection of tasks. Urbanism is capitalism’s seizure of the natural and human environment; developing logically into absolute domination, capitalism can and must now remake the totality of space into its own setting.
170. The capitalist need which is satisfied by urbanism in the form of a visible freezing of life can be expressed in Hegelian terms as the absolute predominance of “the peaceful coexistence of space” over “the restless becoming in the passage of time.”
171. If all the technical forces of capitalism must be understood as tools for the making of separations, in the case of urbanism we are dealing with the equipment at the basis of these technical forces, with the treatment of the ground that suits their deployment, with the very technique of separation.
172. Urbanism is the modern fulfillment of the uninterrupted task which safeguards class power: the preservation of the atomization of workers who had been dangerously brought together by urban conditions of production. The constant struggle that had to be waged against every possible form of their coming together discovers its favored field in urbanism. After the experiences of the French Revolution, the efforts of all established powers to increase the means of maintaining order in the streets finally culminates in the suppression of the street. “With the present means of long-distance mass communication, sprawling isolation has proved an even more effective method of keeping a population under control,” says Lewis Mumford in The City in History, describing “henceforth a one-way world.” But the general movement of isolation, which is the reality of urbanism, must also include a controlled reintegration of workers depending on the needs of production and consumption that can be planned. Integration into the system requires that isolated individuals be recaptured and isolated together: factories and halls of culture, tourist resorts and housing developments are expressly organized to serve this pseudo-community that follows the isolated individual right into the family cell. The widespread use of receivers of the spectacular message enables the individual to fill his isolation with the dominant images–images which derive their power precisely from this isolation.
173. For the first time a new architecture, which in all previous epochs had been reserved for the satisfaction of the ruling classes, is directly aimed at the poor. The formal poverty and the gigantic spread of this new living experience both come from its mass character, which is implicit in its purpose and in modern conditions of construction. Authoritarian decision, which abstractly organizes territory into territory of abstraction, is obviously at the heart of these modern conditions of construction. The same architecture appears in all industrializing countries that are backward in this respect, as a suitable terrain for the new type of social existence which is to be implanted there. The threshold crossed by the growth of society’s material power alongside the lag in the conscious domination of this power, are displayed as clearly by urbanism as by problems of thermonuclear armament or of birth control (where the possibility of manipulating heredity has already been reached).
174. The present is already the time of the self-destruction of the urban milieu. The explosion of cities which cover the countryside with “formless masses of urban residues” (Lewis Mumford) is directly regulated by the imperatives of consumption. The dictatorship of the automobile, pilot-product of the first phase of commodity abundance, has been stamped into the environment with the domination of the freeway, which dislocates old urban centers and requires an ever-larger dispersion. At the same time, stages of incomplete reorganization of the urban fabric polarize temporarily around “distribution factories,” enormous shopping centers built on the bare ground of parking lots; and these temples of frenzied consumption, after bringing about a partial rearrangement of congestion, themselves flee within the centrifugal movement which rejects them as soon as they in turn become overburdened secondary centers. But the technical organization of consumption is only the first element of the general dissolution which has led the city to the point of consuming itself.
175. Economic history, which developed entirely around the opposition between town and country, has reached a level of success which simultaneously cancels out both terms. The current paralysis of total historical development for the sake of the mere continuation of the economy’s independent movement makes the moment when town and country begin to disappear, not the supersession of their cleavage, but their simultaneous collapse. The reciprocal erosion of town and country, product of the failure of the historical movement through which existing urban reality should have been surmounted, is visible in the eclectic melange of their decayed elements which cover the most industrially advanced zones.
176. Universal history was born in cities and reached maturity at the moment of the decisive victory of city over country. To Marx, one of the greatest revolutionary merits of the bourgeoisie was “the subjection of the country to the city” whose very air emancipates. But if the history of the city is the history of freedom, it is also the history of tyranny, of state administration that controls the countryside and the city itself. The city could as yet only struggle for historical freedom, but not possess it. The city is the locus of history because it is conscious of the past and also concentrates the social power that makes the historical undertaking possible. The present tendency to liquidate the city is thus merely another expression of the delay in the subordination of the economy to historical consciousness and in the unification of society reassuming the powers that were detached from it.
177. “The countryside shows the exact opposite: isolation and separation” (German Ideology). Urbanism destroys cities and reestablishes a pseudo-countryside which lacks the natural relations of the old countryside as well as the direct social relations which were directly challenged by the historical city. A new artificial peasantry is recreated by the conditions of housing and spectacular control in today’s “organized territory”: the geographic dispersal and narrowmindedness that always kept the peasantry from undertaking independent action and from affirming itself as a creative historical force again today become characteristics of the producers–the movement of a world which they themselves produce remaining as completely beyond their reach as the natural rhythm of tasks was for the agrarian society. But when this peasantry, which was the unshakable foundation of “Oriental despotism” and whose very fragmentation called for bureaucratic centralization reemerges as a product of the conditions of growth of modern state bureaucracy, its apathy must now be historically manufactured and maintained; natural ignorance has been replaced by the organized spectacle of error. The “new towns” of the technological pseudo-peasantry clearly inscribe on the landscape their rupture with the historical time on which they are built; their motto could be: “On this spot nothing will ever happen, and nothing ever has.” It is obviously because history, which must be liberated in the cities, has not yet been liberated, that the forces of historical absence begin to compose their own exclusive landscape.
178. History, which threatens this twilight world, is also the force which could subject space to lived time. Proletarian revolution is the critique of human geography through which individuals and communities have to create places and events suitable for the appropriation, no longer just of their labor, but of their total history. In this game’s changing space, and in the freely chosen variations in the game’s rules, the autonomy of place can be rediscovered without the reintroduction of an exclusive attachment to the land, thus bringing back the reality of the voyage and of life understood as a voyage which contains its entire meaning within itself.
179. The greatest revolutionary idea concerning urbanism is not itself urbanistic, technological or esthetic. It is the decision to reconstruct the entire environment in accordance with the needs of the power of the Workers’ Councils, of the anti-statist dictatorship of the proletariat, of enforceable dialogue. And the power of the Councils which can be effective only if it transforms existing conditions in their entirety, cannot assign itself a smaller task if it wants to be recognized and to recognize itself in its world.
Chapter 8 “Negation and Consumption Within Culture”
Do you seriously think we shall live long enough to see a political revolution? – we, the contemporaries of these Germans? My friend, you believe what you want to believe.... Let us judge Germany on the basis of its present history – and surely you are not going to object that all its history is falsified, or that all its present public life does not reflect the actual state of the people? Read whatever papers you please, and you cannot fail to be convinced that we never stop (and you must concede that the censorship prevents no one from stopping) celebrating the freedom and national happiness that we enjoy...
Ruge to Marx, March 1843
180. In the historical society divided into classes, culture is the general sphere of knowledge and of representations of the lived; which is to say that culture is the power of generalization existing apart, as division of intellectual labor and as intellectual labor of division. Culture detaches itself from the unity of the society of myth “when the power of unification disappears from the life of man and when opposites lose their living relation and interaction and acquire autonomy... (Hegel’s Treatise on the Differences between the Systems of Fichte and Schelling). By gaining its independence, culture begins an imperialist movement of enrichment which is at the same time the decline of its independence. The history which creates the relative autonomy of culture and the ideological illusions about this autonomy also expresses itself as history of culture. And the entire victorious history of culture can be understood as the history of the revelation of its inadequacy, as a march toward its self-suppression. Culture is the locus of the search for lost unity. In this search for unity, culture as a separate sphere is obliged to negate itself.
181. The struggle between tradition and innovation, which is the principle of internal cultural development in historical societies, can be carried on only through the permanent victory of innovation. Yet cultural innovation is carried by nothing other than the total historical movement which, by becoming conscious of its totality, tends to supersede its own cultural presuppositions and moves toward the suppression of all separation.
182. The growth of knowledge about society, which includes the understanding of history as the heart of culture, derives from itself an irreversible knowledge, which is expressed by the destruction of God. But this “first condition of any critique” is also the first obligation of a critique without end. When it is no longer possible to maintain a single rule of conduct, every result of culture forces culture to advance toward its dissolution. Like philosophy at the moment when it gained its full autonomy, every discipline which becomes autonomous has to collapse, first of all as a pretention to explain social totality coherently, and finally even as a fragmented tool which can be used within its own boundaries. The lack of rationality of separate culture is the element which condemns it to disappear, because within it the victory of the rational is already present as a requirement.
183. Culture grew out of the history which abolished the way of life of the old world, but as a separate sphere it is still no more than perceptible intelligence and communication, which remain partial in a partially historical society. It is the sense of a world which hardly makes sense.
184. The end of cultural history manifests itself on two opposite sides: the project of its supersession in total history, and the organization of its preservation as a dead object in spectacular contemplation. One of these movements has linked its fate to social critique, the other to the defense of class power.
185. The two sides of the end of culture–in all the aspects of knowledge as well as in all the aspects of perceptible representations exist in a unified manner in what used to be art in the most general sense. In the case of knowledge, the accumulation of branches of fragmentary knowledge, which become unusable because the approval of existing conditions must finally renounce knowledge of itself, confronts the theory of praxis which alone holds the truth of them all since it alone holds the secret of their use. In the case of representations, the critical self-destruction of society’s former common language confronts its artificial recomposition in the commodity spectacle, the illusory representation of the non-lived.
186. When society loses the community of the society of myth, it must lose all the references of a really common language until the time when the rifts within the inactive community can be surmounted by the inauguration of the real historical community. When art, which was the common language of social inaction, becomes independent art in the modern sense, emerging from its original religious universe and becoming individual production of separate works, it too experiences the movement that dominates the history of the entirety of separate culture. The affirmation of its independence is the beginning of its disintegration.
187. The loss of the language of communication is positively expressed by the modern movement of decomposition of all art, its formal annihilation. This movement expresses negatively the fact that a common language must be rediscovered no longer in the unilateral conclusion which, in the art of the historical society, always arrived too late, speaking to others about what was lived without real dialogue, and admitting this deficiency of life but it must be rediscovered in praxis, which unifies direct activity and its language. The problem is to actually possess the community of dialogue and the game with time which have been represented by poetico-artistic works.
188. When art, become independent, depicts its world in dazzling colors, a moment of life has grown old and it cannot be rejuvenated with dazzling colors. It can only be evoked as a memory. The greatness of art begins to appear only at the dusk of life.
189. The historical time which invades art expressed itself first of all in the sphere of art itself, starting with the baroque. Baroque is the art of a world which has lost its center: the last mythical order, in the cosmos and in terrestrial government, accepted by the Middle Ages–the unity of Christianity and the phantom of an Empire has fallen. The art of the change must carry within itself the ephemeral principle it discovers in the world. It chose, said Eugenio d’Ors, “life against eternity.” Theater and the festival, the theatrical festival, are the outstanding achievements of the baroque where every specific artistic expression becomes meaningful only with reference to the setting of a constructed place, a construction which is its own center of unification; this center is the passage, which is inscribed as a threatened equilibrium in the dynamic disorder of everything. The somewhat excessive importance given to the concept of the baroque in the contemporary discussion of esthetics is an expression of the awareness that artistic classicism is impossible: for three centuries the attempts to realize a normative classicism or neoclassicism were no more than brief artificial constructions speaking the external language of the State, the absolute monarchy, or the revolutionary bourgeoisie in Roman clothes. What followed the general path of the baroque, from romanticism to cubism, was ultimately an ever more individualized art of negation perpetually renewing itself to the point of the fragmentation and complete negation of the artistic sphere. The disappearance of historical art, which was linked to the internal communication of an elite and had its semi-independent social basis in the partly playful conditions still lived by the last aristocracies, also expresses the fact that capitalism possesses the first class power which admits itself stripped of any ontological quality, a power which, rooted in the simple management of the economy, is equally the loss of all human mastery. The baroque, artistic creation’s long-lost unity, is in some way rediscovered in the current consumption of the totality of past art. When all past art is recognized and sought historically and retrospectively constituted into a world art, it is relativized into a global disorder which in turn constitutes a baroque edifice on a higher level, an edifice in which the very production of baroque art merges with all its revivals. The arts of all civilizations and all epochs can be known and accepted together for the first time. Once this “collection of souvenirs” of art history becomes possible, it is also the end of the world of art. In this age of museums, when artistic communication can no longer exist, all the former moments of art can be admitted equally, because they no longer suffer from the loss of their specific conditions of communication in the current general loss of the conditions of communication.
190. As a negative movement which seeks the supersession of art in a historical society where history is not yet lived, art in the epoch of its dissolution is simultaneously an art of change and the pure expression of impossible change. The more grandiose its reach, the more its true realization is beyond it. This art is perforce avant-garde, and it is not. Its avant-garde is its disappearance.
191. Dadaism and surrealism are the two currents which mark the end of modern art. They are contemporaries, though only in a relatively conscious manner, of the last great assault of the revolutionary proletarian movement; and the defeat of this movement, which left them imprisoned in the same artistic field whose decrepitude they had announced, is the basic reason for their immobilization. Dadaism and surrealism are at once historically related and opposed to each other. This opposition, which each of them considered to be its most important and radical contribution, reveals the internal inadequacy of their critique, which each developed one-sidedly. Dadaism wanted to suppress art without realizing it; surrealism wanted to realize art without suppressing it. The critical position later elaborated by the Situationists has shown that the suppression and the realization of art are inseparable aspects of a single supersession of art.
192. Spectacular consumption which preserves congealed past culture, including the recuperated repetition of its negative manifestations, openly becomes in the cultural sector what it is implicitly in its totality: the communication of the incommunicable. The flagrant destruction of language is flatly acknowledged as an officially positive value because the point is to advertise reconciliation with the dominant state of affairs–and here all communication is joyously proclaimed absent. The critical truth of this destruction the real life of modern poetry and art is obviously hidden, since the spectacle, whose function is to make history forgotten within culture, applies, in the pseudo-novelty of its modernist means, the very strategy which constitutes its core. Thus a school of neo-literature, which simply admits that it contemplates the written word for its own sake, can present itself as something new. Furthermore, next to the simple proclamation of the sufficient beauty of the decay of the communicable, the most modern tendency of spectacular culture–and the one most closely linked to the repressive practice of the general organization of society–seeks to remake, by means of “team projects,” a complex neo-artistic environment made up of decomposed elements: notably in urbanism’s attempts to integrate artistic debris or esthetico- technical hybrids. This is an expression, on the level of spectacular pseudo-culture, of developed capitalism’s general project, which aims to recapture the fragmented worker as a “personality well integrated in the group,” a tendency described by American sociologists (Riesman, Whyte, etc.). It is the same project everywhere: a restructuring without community.
193. When culture becomes nothing more than a commodity, it must also become the star commodity of the spectacular society. Clark Kerr, one of the foremost ideologues of this tendency, has calculated that the complex process of production, distribution and consumption of knowledge already gets 29% of the yearly national product in the United States; and he predicts that in the second half of this century culture will be the driving force in the development of the economy, a role played by the automobile in the first half of this century, and by railroads in the second half of the previous century.
194. All the branches of knowledge, which continue to develop as the thought of the spectacle, have to justify a society without justification, and constitute a general science of false consciousness. This thought is completely conditioned by the fact that it cannot and will not investigate its own material basis in the spectacular system.
195. The system’s thought, the thought of the social organization of appearance, is itself obscured by the generalized sub-communication which it defends. It does not know that conflict is at the origin of all things in its world. Specialists in the power of the spectacle, an absolute power within its system of language without response, are absolutely corrupted by their experience of contempt and of the success of contempt; and they find their contempt confirmed by their knowledge of the contemptible man, who the spectator really is.
196. Within the specialized thought of the spectacular system, a new division of tasks takes place to the extent that the improvement of this system itself poses new problems: on one hand, modern sociology which studies separation by means of the conceptual and material instruments of separation itself, undertakes the spectacular critique of the spectacle; on the other hand, in the various disciplines where structuralism takes root, the apology for the spectacle institutes itself as the thought of non-thought, as the official amnesia of historical practice. Nevertheless, the false despair of non-dialectical critique and the false optimism of pure advertising of the system are identical in that they are both submissive thought.
197. The sociology which began, first in the United States, to focus discussion on the living conditions brought about by present development, compiled a great deal of empirical data, but could not fathom the truth of its subject because it lacked the critique immanent in this subject. As a result, the sincerely reformist tendency of this sociology resorts to morality, common sense, appeals devoid of all relevance to practical measures, etc. Because this type of critique is ignorant of the negative at the core of its world, it insists on describing only a sort of negative surplus which it finds deplorably annoying on the surface, like an irrational parasitic proliferation. This indignant good will, even if genuine, ends up blaming only the external consequences of the system, yet thinks itself critical, forgetting the essentially apologetic character of its assumptions and method.
198. Those who denounce the absurdity or the perils of incitement to waste in the society of economic abundance do not understand the purpose of waste. They condemn with ingratitude, in the name of economic rationality, the good irrational guardians without whom the power of this economic rationality would collapse. For example, Boorstin, in L’Image, describes the commercial consumption of the American spectacle but never reaches the concept of spectacle because he thinks he can exempt private life, or the notion of “the honest commodity,” from this disastrous exaggeration. He does not understand that the commodity itself made the laws whose “honest” application leads to the distinct reality of private life and to its subsequent reconquest by the social consumption of images.
199. Boorstin describes the excesses of a world which has become foreign to us as if they were excesses foreign to our world. But the “normal” basis of social life, to which he implicitly refers when he characterizes the superficial reign of images with psychological and moral judgments as a product of “our extravagant pretentions,” has no reality whatever, either in his book or in his epoch. Boorstin cannot understand the full profundity of a society of images because the real human life he speaks of is for him in the past, including the past of religious resignation. The truth of this society is nothing other than the negation of this society.
200. The sociology which thinks that an industrial rationality functioning separately can be isolated from the whole of social life can go so far as to isolate the techniques of reproduction and transmission from the general industrial movement. Thus Boorstin finds that the results he depicts are caused by the unfortunate, almost fortuitous encounter of an oversized technical apparatus for image diffusion with an excessive attraction to the pseudo-sensational on the part of the people of our epoch. Thus the spectacle would be caused by the fact that modern man is too much of a spectator. Boorstin fails to understand that the proliferation of the prefabricated “pseudo-events” which he denounces flows from the simple fact that, in the massive reality of present social life, men do not themselves live events. Because history itself haunts modern society like a spectre, pseudo-histories are constructed at every level of consumption of life in order to preserve the threatened equilibrium of present frozen time.
201. The assertion of the definitive stability of a short period of frozen historical time is the undeniable basis, proclaimed consciously and unconsciously, of the present tendency toward a structuralist systematization. The vantage point from which anti-historical structuralist thought views the world is that of the eternal presence of a system which was never created and which will never end. The dream of the dictatorship of a preexisting unconscious structure over all social praxis could be erroneously drawn from models of structures elaborated by linguistics and anthropology (and even the analysis of the functioning of capitalism)–models already misunderstood in this context–only because the academic imagination of minor functionaries, easily overwhelmed and completely entrenched in the awestruck celebration of the existing system, flatly reduces all reality to the existence of the system.
202. In order to understand “structuralist” categories, one must keep in mind, as with every historical social science, that the categories express forms as well as conditions of existence. Just as one cannot appraise the value of a man in terms of the conception he has of himself, one cannot appraise–and admire–this particular society by taking as indisputably true the language it speaks to itself; “...we cannot judge such epochs of transformation by their own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must rather be explained in the light of the contradictions of material life...” Structure is the daughter of present power. Structuralism is the thought guaranteed by the State which regards the present conditions of spectacular “communication” as an absolute. Its method of studying the code of messages is itself nothing but the product, and the acknowledgement, of a society where communication exists in the form of a cascade of hierarchic signals. Consequently it is not structuralism which serves to prove the transhistorical validity of the society of the spectacle; it is on the contrary the society of the spectacle imposing itself as massive reality which serves to prove the cold dream of structuralism.
203. The critical concept of spectacle can undoubtedly also be vulgarized into a commonplace hollow formula of sociologico-political rhetoric to explain and abstractly denounce everything, and thus serve as a defense of the spectacular system. It is obvious that no idea can lead beyond the existing spectacle, but only beyond the existing ideas about the spectacle. To effectively destroy the society of the spectacle, what is needed is men putting a practical force into action. The critical theory of the spectacle can be true only by uniting with the practical current of negation in society, and this negation, the resumption of revolutionary class struggle, will become conscious of itself by developing the critique of the spectacle which is the theory of its real conditions (the practical conditions of present oppression), and inversely by unveiling the secret of what this negation can be. This theory does not expect miracles from the working class. It envisages the new formulation and the realization of proletarian imperatives as a long-range task. To make an artificial distinction between theoretical and practical struggle since on the basis defined here, the very formulation and communication of such a theory cannot even be conceived without a rigorous practice it is certain that the obscure and difficult path of critical theory must also be the lot of the practical movement acting on the scale of society.
204. Critical theory must be communicated in its own language. It is the language of contradiction, which must be dialectical in form as it is in content. It is critique of the totality and historical critique. It is not “the nadir of writing” but its inversion. It is not a negation of style, but the style of negation.
205. In its very style. the exposition of dialectical theory is a scandal and an abomination in terms of the rules and the corresponding tastes of the dominant language, because when it uses existing concrete concepts it is simultaneously aware of their rediscovered fluidity, their necessary destruction.
206. This style which contains its own critique must express the domination of the present critique over its entire past. The very mode of exposition of dialectical theory displays the negative spirit within it. “Truth is not like a product in which one can no longer find any trace of the tool that made it” (Hegel). This theoretical consciousness of movement, in which the movement’s very trace must be evident, manifests itself by the inversion of the established relations between concepts and by the diversion of all the acquisitions of previous critique. The inversion of the genetive is this expression of historical revolutions, consigned to the form of thought, which was considered Hegel’s epigrammatic style. The young Marx, recommending the technique Feuerbach had systematically used of replacing the subject with the predicate, achieved the most consistent use of this insurrectional style, drawing the misery of philosophy out of the philosophy of misery. Diversion leads to the subversion of past critical conclusions which were frozen into respectable truths, namely transformed into lies. Kierkegaard already used it deliberately, adding his own denunciation to it: “But despite all the tours and detours, just as jam always returns to the pantry, you always end up by sliding in a little word which isn’t yours and which bothers you by the memory it awakens” (Philosophical Fragments). It is the obligation of distance toward what was falsified into official truth which determines the use of diversion, as was acknowledged by Kierkegaard in the same book: “Only one more comment on your numerous allusions aiming at all the grief I mix into my statements of borrowed sayings. I do not deny it here nor will I deny that it was voluntary and that in a new continuation to this pamphlet, if I ever write it, I intend to name the object by its real name and to clothe the problem in historical attire.”
207. Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.
208. Diversion is the opposite of quotation, of the theoretical authority which is always falsified by the mere fate of having become a quotation a fragment torn from its context, from its movement, and ultimately from the global framework of its epoch and from the precise choice, whether exactly recognized or erroneous, which it was in this framework. Diversion is the fluid language of anti-ideology. It appears in communication which knows it cannot pretend to guarantee anything definitively and in itself. At its peak, it is language which cannot be confirmed by any former or supra-critical reference. On the contrary, its own coherence, in itself and with the applicable facts, can confirm the former core of truth which it brings out. Diversion has grounded its cause on nothing external to its own truth as present critique.
209. What openly presents itself as diverted in theoretical form, denying the durable autonomy of the sphere of the theoretically expressed by introducing there, through this violence, the action which upsets and overthrows the entire existing order, reminds us that the existence of theory is nothing in itself, and that it can know itself only through historical action and the historical correction which is its real counterpart.
210. Only the real negation of culture can preserve its meaning. It can no longer be cultural. Thus it is what in some way remains at the level of culture, but with a completely different meaning.
211. In the language of contradiction, the critique of culture presents itself as a unified critique in that it dominates the whole of culture, its knowledge as well as its poetry, and in that it no longer separates itself from the critique of the social totality. This unified theoretical critique goes alone to meet unified social practice.
Chapter 9 “Ideology Materialized”
Self-consciousness exists in itself and for itself, in that, and by the fact that it exists for another self-consciousness; that is to say, it is only by being acknowledged or “recognized.”
Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind
212. Ideology is the basis of the thought of a class society in the conflict-laden course of history. Ideological facts were never a simple chimaera, but rather a deformed consciousness of realities, and in this form they have been real factors which set in motion real deforming acts; all the more so when the materialization, in the form of spectacle, of the ideology brought about by the concrete success of autonomized economic production in practice confounds social reality with an ideology which has tailored all reality in terms of its model.
213. When ideology, the abstract will and the illusion of the universal, is legitimized by the universal abstraction and the effective dictatorship of illusion in modern society, it is no longer a voluntaristic struggle of the partial, but its victory. At this point, ideological pretention acquires a sort of flat positivistic exactitude: it is no longer a historical choice but a fact. In this type of assertion, the particular names of ideologies have disappeared. Even the role of specifically ideological labor in the service of the system comes to be considered as nothing more than the recognition of an “epistemological base” that pretends to be beyond all ideological phenomena. Materialized ideology itself has no name, just as it has no expressible historical program. This is another way of saying that the history of ideologies is over.
214. Ideology, whose whole internal logic led to “total ideology” in Mannheim’s sense the despotism of the fragment which imposes itself as pseudo-knowledge of a frozen totality, the totalitarian vision–is now completed in the immobilized spectacle of non-history. Its completion is also its disintegration throughout society. With the practical disintegration of this society, ideology–the final unreason that blocks access to historical life–must disappear.
215. The spectacle is ideology par excellence, because it exposes and manifests in its fullness the essence of all ideological systems: the impoverishment, servitude and negation of real life. The spectacle is materially “the expression of the separation and estrangement between man and man.” Through the “new power of fraud,” concentrated at the base of the spectacle in this production, “the new domain of alien beings to whom man is subservient... grows coextensively with the mass of objects.” It is the highest stage of an expansion which has turned need against life. “The need for money is thus the real need produced by political economy, and the only need it produces” (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts). The spectacle extends to all social life the principle which Hegel (in the Realphilosophie of Jena) conceives as the principle of money: it is “the life of what is dead, moving within itself.”
216. In opposition to the project summarized in the Theses on Feuerbach (the realization of philosophy in praxis which supersedes the opposition between idealism and materialism), the spectacle simultaneously preserves, and imposes within the pseudo-concrete of its universe, the ideological characteristics of materialism and idealism. The contemplative side of the old materialism which conceives the world as representation and not as activity–and which ultimately idealizes matter–is fulfilled in the spectacle, where concrete things are automatically the masters of social life. Reciprocally, the dreamed activity of idealism is equally fulfilled in the spectacle, through the technical mediation of signs and signals-which ultimately materialize an abstract ideal.
217. The parallel between ideology and schizophrenia, established by Gabel (La Fausse Conscience) must be placed in this economic process of materialization of ideology. Society has become what ideology already was. The removal of praxis and the anti-dialectical false consciousness which accompanies it are imposed during every hour of daily life subjected to the spectacle; this must be understood as a systematic organization of the “failure of the faculty of encounter” and as its replacement by a hallucinatory social fact: the false consciousness of encounter, the “illusion of encounter.” In a society where no one can any longer be recognized by others, every individual becomes unable to recognize his own reality. Ideology is at home; separation has built its world.
218. “In clinical charts of schizophrenia,” says Gabel, “the decay of the dialectic of totality (with dissociation as its extreme form) and the decay of the dialectic of becoming (with catatonia as its extreme form) seem solidly united.” The spectator’s consciousness, imprisoned in a flattened universe, bound by the screen of the spectacle behind which his life has been deported, knows only the fictional speakers who unilaterally surround him with their commodities and the politics of their commodities. The spectacle, in its entirety, is his “mirror image.” Here the stage is set with the false exit of generalized autism.
219. The spectacle obliterates the boundaries between self and world by crushing the self besieged by the presence-absence of the world and it obliterates the boundaries between true and false by driving all lived truth below the real presence of fraud ensured by the organization of appearance. One who passively accepts his alien daily fate is thus pushed toward a madness that reacts in an illusory way to this fate by resorting to magical techniques. The acceptance and consumption of commodities are at the heart of this pseudo-response to a communication without response. The need to imitate which is felt by the consumer is precisely the infantile need conditioned by all the aspects of his fundamental dispossession. In the terms applied by Gabel to a completely different pathological level, “the abnormal need for representation here compensates for a tortuous feeling of being on the margin of existence.”
220. If the logic of false consciousness cannot know itself truly, the search for critical truth about the spectacle must simultaneously be a true critique. It must struggle in practice among the irreconcilable enemies of the spectacle and admit that it is absent where they are absent. The abstract desire for immediate effectiveness accepts the laws of the ruling thought, the exclusive point of view of the present, when it throws itself into reformist compromises or trashy pseudo-revolutionary common actions. Thus madness reappears in the very posture which pretends to fight it. Conversely, the critique which goes beyond the spectacle must know how to wait.
221. Emancipation from the material bases of inverted truth this is what the self-emancipation of our epoch consists of. This “historical mission of installing truth in the world” cannot be accomplished either by the isolated individual, or by the atomized crowd subjected to manipulation, but now as ever by the class which is able to effect the dissolution of all classes by bringing all power into the dealienating form of realized democracy, the Council, in which practical theory controls itself and sees its own action. This is possible only where individuals are “directly linked to universal history”; only where dialogue arms itself to make its own conditions victorious.
The sociological theory that the loss of the support of objectively established religion, the dissolution of the last remnants of pre-capitalism, together with technological and social differentiation or specialisation, have led to cultural chaos is disproved every day; for culture now impresses the same stamp on everything.
Films, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part. Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites are one in their enthusiastic obedience to the rhythm of the iron system. The decorative industrial management buildings and exhibition centers in authoritarian countries are much the same as anywhere else. The huge gleaming towers that shoot up everywhere are outward signs of the ingenious planning of international concerns, toward which the unleashed entrepreneurial system (whose monuments are a mass of gloomy houses and business premises in grimy, spiritless cities) was already hastening. Even now the older houses just outside the concrete city centres look like slums, and the new bungalows on the outskirts are at one with the flimsy structures of world fairs in their praise of technical progress and their built-in demand to be discarded after a short while like empty food cans.
Yet the city housing projects designed to perpetuate the individual as a supposedly independent unit in a small hygienic dwelling make him all the more subservient to his adversary – the absolute power of capitalism. Because the inhabitants, as producers and as consumers, are drawn into the center in search of work and pleasure, all the living units crystallise into well-organised complexes. The striking unity of microcosm and macrocosm presents men with a model of their culture: the false identity of the general and the particular. Under monopoly all mass culture is identical, and the lines of its artificial framework begin to show through. The people at the top are no longer so interested in concealing monopoly: as its violence becomes more open, so its power grows. Movies and radio need no longer pretend to be art. The truth that they are just business is made into an ideology in order to justify the rubbish they deliberately produce. They call themselves industries; and when their directors’ incomes are published, any doubt about the social utility of the finished products is removed.
Interested parties explain the culture industry in technological terms. It is alleged that because millions participate in it, certain reproduction processes are necessary that inevitably require identical needs in innumerable places to be satisfied with identical goods. The technical contrast between the few production centers and the large number of widely dispersed consumption points is said to demand organisation and planning by management. Furthermore, it is claimed that standards were based in the first place on consumers’ needs, and for that reason were accepted with so little resistance. The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger. No mention is made of the fact that the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest. A technological rationale is the rationale of domination itself. It is the coercive nature of society alienated from itself. Automobiles, bombs, and movies keep the whole thing together until their leveling element shows its strength in the very wrong which it furthered. It has made the technology of the culture industry no more than the achievement of standardisation and mass production, sacrificing whatever involved a distinction between the logic of the work and that of the social system.
This is the result not of a law of movement in technology as such but of its function in today’s economy. The need which might resist central control has already been suppressed by the control of the individual consciousness. The step from the telephone to the radio has clearly distinguished the roles. The former still allowed the subscriber to play the role of subject, and was liberal. The latter is democratic: it turns all participants into listeners and authoritatively subjects them to broadcast programs which are all exactly the same. No machinery of rejoinder has been devised, and private broadcasters are denied any freedom. They are confined to the apocryphal field of the “amateur,” and also have to accept organisation from above.
But any trace of spontaneity from the public in official broadcasting is controlled and absorbed by talent scouts, studio competitions and official programs of every kind selected by professionals. Talented performers belong to the industry long before it displays them; otherwise they would not be so eager to fit in. The attitude of the public, which ostensibly and actually favours the system of the culture industry, is a part of the system and not an excuse for it. If one branch of art follows the same formula as one with a very different medium and content; if the dramatic intrigue of broadcast soap operas becomes no more than useful material for showing how to master technical problems at both ends of the scale of musical experience – real jazz or a cheap imitation; or if a movement from a Beethoven symphony is crudely “adapted” for a film sound-track in the same way as a Tolstoy novel is garbled in a film script: then the claim that this is done to satisfy the spontaneous wishes of the public is no more than hot air.
We are closer to the facts if we explain these phenomena as inherent in the technical and personnel apparatus which, down to its last cog, itself forms part of the economic mechanism of selection. In addition there is the agreement – or at least the determination – of all executive authorities not to produce or sanction anything that in any way differs from their own rules, their own ideas about consumers, or above all themselves.
In our age the objective social tendency is incarnate in the hidden subjective purposes of company directors, the foremost among whom are in the most powerful sectors of industry – steel, petroleum, electricity, and chemicals. Culture monopolies are weak and dependent in comparison. They cannot afford to neglect their appeasement of the real holders of power if their sphere of activity in mass society (a sphere producing a specific type of commodity which anyhow is still too closely bound up with easy-going liberalism and Jewish intellectuals) is not to undergo a series of purges. The dependence of the most powerful broadcasting company on the electrical industry, or of the motion picture industry on the banks, is characteristic of the whole sphere, whose individual branches are themselves economically interwoven. All are in such close contact that the extreme concentration of mental forces allows demarcation lines between different firms and technical branches to be ignored.
The ruthless unity in the culture industry is evidence of what will happen in politics. Marked differentiations such as those of A and B films, or of stories in magazines in different price ranges, depend not so much on subject matter as on classifying, organising, and labelling consumers. Something is provided for all so that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasised and extended. The public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type. Consumers appear as statistics on research organisation charts, and are divided by income groups into red, green, and blue areas; the technique is that used for any type of propaganda.
How formalised the procedure is can be seen when the mechanically differentiated products prove to be all alike in the end. That the difference between the Chrysler range and General Motors products is basically illusory strikes every child with a keen interest in varieties. What connoisseurs discuss as good or bad points serve only to perpetuate the semblance of competition and range of choice. The same applies to the Warner Brothers and Metro Goldwyn Mayer productions. But even the differences between the more expensive and cheaper models put out by the same firm steadily diminish: for automobiles, there are such differences as the number of cylinders, cubic capacity, details of patented gadgets; and for films there are the number of stars, the extravagant use of technology, labor, and equipment, and the introduction of the latest psychological formulas. The universal criterion of merit is the amount of “conspicuous production,” of blatant cash investment. The varying budgets in the culture industry do not bear the slightest relation to factual values, to the meaning of the products themselves.
Even the technical media are relentlessly forced into uniformity. Television aims at a synthesis of radio and film, and is held up only because the interested parties have not yet reached agreement, but its consequences will be quite enormous and promise to intensify the impoverishment of aesthetic matter so drastically, that by tomorrow the thinly veiled identity of all industrial culture products can come triumphantly out into the open, derisively fulfilling the Wagnerian dream of the Gesamtkunstwerk – the fusion of all the arts in one work.
The alliance of word, image, and music is all the more perfect than in Tristan because the sensuous elements which all approvingly reflect the surface of social reality are in principle embodied in the same technical process, the unity of which becomes its distinctive content. This process integrates all the elements of the production, from the novel (shaped with an eye to the film) to the last sound effect. It is the triumph of invested capital, whose title as absolute master is etched deep into the hearts of the dispossessed in the employment line; it is the meaningful content of every film, whatever plot the production team may have selected.
The man with leisure has to accept what the culture manufacturers offer him. Kant’s formalism still expected a contribution from the individual, who was thought to relate the varied experiences of the senses to fundamental concepts; but industry robs the individual of his function. Its prime service to the customer is to do his schematising for him.
Kant said that there was a secret mechanism in the soul which prepared direct intuitions in such a way that they could be fitted into the system of pure reason. But today that secret has been deciphered. While the mechanism is to all appearances planned by those who serve up the data of experience, that is, by the culture industry, it is in fact forced upon the latter by the power of society, which remains irrational, however we may try to rationalise it; and this inescapable force is processed by commercial agencies so that they give an artificial impression of being in command.
There is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him. Art for the masses has destroyed the dream but still conforms to the tenets of that dreaming idealism which critical idealism baulked at. Everything derives from consciousness: for Malebranche and Berkeley, from the consciousness of God; in mass art, from the consciousness of the production team. Not only are the hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types, but the specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change. The details are interchangeable. The short interval sequence which was effective in a hit song, the hero’s momentary fall from grace (which he accepts as good sport), the rough treatment which the beloved gets from the male star, the latter’s rugged defiance of the spoilt heiress, are, like all the other details, ready-made clichés to be slotted in anywhere; they never do anything more than fulfil the purpose allotted them in the overall plan. Their whole raison d’être is to confirm it by being its constituent parts. As soon as the film begins, it is quite clear how it will end, and who will be rewarded, punished, or forgotten. In light music, once the trained ear has heard the first notes of the hit song, it can guess what is coming and feel flattered when it does come. The average length of the short story has to be rigidly adhered to. Even gags, effects, and jokes are calculated like the setting in which they are placed. They are the responsibility of special experts and their narrow range makes it easy for them to be apportioned in the office.
The development of the culture industry has led to the predominance of the effect, the obvious touch, and the technical detail over the work itself – which once expressed an idea, but was liquidated together with the idea. When the detail won its freedom, it became rebellious and, in the period from Romanticism to Expressionism, asserted itself as free expression, as a vehicle of protest against the organisation. In music the single harmonic effect obliterated the awareness of form as a whole; in painting the individual colour was stressed at the expense of pictorial composition; and in the novel psychology became more important than structure. The totality of the culture industry has put an end to this.
Though concerned exclusively with effects, it crushes their insubordination and makes them subserve the formula, which replaces the work. The same fate is inflicted on whole and parts alike. The whole inevitably bears no relation to the details – just like the career of a successful man into which everything is made to fit as an illustration or a proof, whereas it is nothing more than the sum of all those idiotic events. The so-called dominant idea is like a file which ensures order but not coherence. The whole and the parts are alike; there is no antithesis and no connection. Their prearranged harmony is a mockery of what had to be striven after in the great bourgeois works of art. In Germany the graveyard stillness of the dictatorship already hung over the gayest films of the democratic era.
The whole world is made to pass through the filter of the culture industry. The old experience of the movie-goer, who sees the world outside as an extension of the film he has just left (because the latter is intent upon reproducing the world of everyday perceptions), is now the producer’s guideline. The more intensely and flawlessly his techniques duplicate empirical objects, the easier it is today for the illusion to prevail that the outside world is the straightforward continuation of that presented on the screen. This purpose has been furthered by mechanical reproduction since the lightning takeover by the sound film.
Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies. The sound film, far surpassing the theatre of illusion, leaves no room for imagination or reflection on the part of the audience, who is unable to respond within the structure of the film, yet deviate from its precise detail without losing the thread of the story; hence the film forces its victims to equate it directly with reality. The stunting of the mass-media consumer’s powers of imagination and spontaneity does not have to be traced back to any psychological mechanisms; he must ascribe the loss of those attributes to the objective nature of the products themselves, especially to the most characteristic of them, the sound film. They are so designed that quickness, powers of observation, and experience are undeniably needed to apprehend them at all; yet sustained thought is out of the question if the spectator is not to miss the relentless rush of facts.
Even though the effort required for his response is semi-automatic, no scope is left for the imagination. Those who are so absorbed by the world of the movie – by its images, gestures, and words – that they are unable to supply what really makes it a world, do not have to dwell on particular points of its mechanics during a screening. All the other films and products of the entertainment industry which they have seen have taught them what to expect; they react automatically.
The might of industrial society is lodged in men’s minds. The entertainments manufacturers know that their products will be consumed with alertness even when the customer is distraught, for each of them is a model of the huge economic machinery which has always sustained the masses, whether at work or at leisure – which is akin to work. From every sound film and every broadcast program the social effect can be inferred which is exclusive to none but is shared by all alike. The culture industry as a whole has moulded men as a type unfailingly reproduced in every product. All the agents of this process, from the producer to the women’s clubs, take good care that the simple reproduction of this mental state is not nuanced or extended in any way.
The art historians and guardians of culture who complain of the extinction in the West of a basic style-determining power are wrong. The stereotyped appropriation of everything, even the inchoate, for the purposes of mechanical reproduction surpasses the rigour and general currency of any “real style,” in the sense in which cultural cognoscenti celebrate the organic pre-capitalist past. No Palestrina could be more of a purist in eliminating every unprepared and unresolved discord than the jazz arranger in suppressing any development which does not conform to the jargon. When jazzing up Mozart he changes him not only when he is too serious or too difficult but when he harmonises the melody in a different way, perhaps more simply, than is customary now. No medieval builder can have scrutinised the subjects for church windows and sculptures more suspiciously than the studio hierarchy scrutinises a work by Balzac or Hugo before finally approving it. No medieval theologian could have determined the degree of the torment to be suffered by the damned in accordance with the order of divine love more meticulously than the producers of shoddy epics calculate the torture to be undergone by the hero or the exact point to which the leading lady’s hemline shall be raised. The explicit and implicit, exoteric and esoteric catalogue of the forbidden and tolerated is so extensive that it not only defines the area of freedom but is all-powerful inside it. Everything down to the last detail is shaped accordingly.
Like its counterpart, avant-garde art, the entertainment industry determines its own language, down to its very syntax and vocabulary, by the use of anathema. The constant pressure to produce new effects (which must conform to the old pattern) serves merely as another rule to increase the power of the conventions when any single effect threatens to slip through the net. Every detail is so firmly stamped with sameness that nothing can appear which is not marked at birth, or does not meet with approval at first sight. And the star performers, whether they produce or reproduce, use this jargon as freely and fluently and with as much gusto as if it were the very language which it silenced long ago. Such is the ideal of what is natural in this field of activity, and its influence becomes all the more powerful, the more technique is perfected and diminishes the tension between the finished product and everyday life. The paradox of this routine, which is essentially travesty, can be detected and is often predominant in everything that the culture industry turns out. A jazz musician who is playing a piece of serious music, one of Beethoven’s simplest minuets, syncopates it involuntarily and will smile superciliously when asked to follow the normal divisions of the beat. This is the “nature” which, complicated by the ever-present and extravagant demands of the specific medium, constitutes the new style and is a “system of non-culture, to which one might even concede a certain ‘unity of style’ if it really made any sense to speak of stylised barbarity.” [Nietzsche]
The universal imposition of this stylised mode can even go beyond what is quasi-officially sanctioned or forbidden; today a hit song is more readily forgiven for not observing the 32 beats or the compass of the ninth than for containing even the most clandestine melodic or harmonic detail which does not conform to the idiom. Whenever Orson Welles offends against the tricks of the trade, he is forgiven because his departures from the norm are regarded as calculated mutations which serve all the more strongly to confirm the validity of the system. The constraint of the technically-conditioned idiom which stars and directors have to produce as “nature” so that the people can appropriate it, extends to such fine nuances that they almost attain the subtlety of the devices of an avant-garde work as against those of truth. The rare capacity minutely to fulfil the obligations of the natural idiom in all branches of the culture industry becomes the criterion of efficiency. What and how they say it must be measurable by everyday language, as in logical positivism.
The producers are experts. The idiom demands an astounding productive power, which it absorbs and squanders. In a diabolical way it has overreached the culturally conservative distinction between genuine and artificial style. A style might be called artificial which is imposed from without on the refractory impulses of a form. But in the culture industry every element of the subject matter has its origin in the same apparatus as that jargon whose stamp it bears. The quarrels in which the artistic experts become involved with sponsor and censor about a lie going beyond the bounds of credibility are evidence not so much of an inner aesthetic tension as of a divergence of interests. The reputation of the specialist, in which a last remnant of objective independence sometimes finds refuge, conflicts with the business politics of the Church, or the concern which is manufacturing the cultural commodity. But the thing itself has been essentially objectified and made viable before the established authorities began to argue about it. Even before Zanuck acquired her, Saint Bernadette was regarded by her latter-day hagiographer as brilliant propaganda for all interested parties. That is what became of the emotions of the character. Hence the style of the culture industry, which no longer has to test itself against any refractory material, is also the negation of style. The reconciliation of the general and particular, of the rule and the specific demands of the subject matter, the achievement of which alone gives essential, meaningful content to style, is futile because there has ceased to be the slightest tension between opposite poles: these concordant extremes are dismally identical; the general can replace the particular, and vice versa.
Nevertheless, this caricature of style does not amount to something beyond the genuine style of the past. In the culture industry the notion of genuine style is seen to be the aesthetic equivalent of domination. Style considered as mere aesthetic regularity is a romantic dream of the past. The unity of style not only of the Christian Middle Ages but of the Renaissance expresses in each case the different structure of social power, and not the obscure experience of the oppressed in which the general was enclosed. The great artists were never those who embodied a wholly flawless and perfect style, but those who used style as a way of hardening themselves against the chaotic expression of suffering, as a negative truth. The style of their works gave what was expressed that force without which life flows away unheard. Those very art forms which are known as classical, such as Mozart’s music, contain objective trends which represent something different to the style which they incarnate.
As late as Schönberg and Picasso, the great artists have retained a mistrust of style, and at crucial points have subordinated it to the logic of the matter. What Dadaists and Expressionists called the untruth of style as such triumphs today in the sung jargon of a crooner, in the carefully contrived elegance of a film star, and even in the admirable expertise of a photograph of a peasant’s squalid hut. Style represents a promise in every work of art. That which is expressed is subsumed through style into the dominant forms of generality, into the language of music, painting, or words, in the hope that it will be reconciled thus with the idea of true generality. This promise held out by the work of art that it will create truth by lending new shape to the conventional social forms is as necessary as it is hypocritical. It unconditionally posits the real forms of life as it is by suggesting that fulfilment lies in their aesthetic derivatives. To this extent the claim of art is always ideology too.
However, only in this confrontation with tradition of which style is the record can art express suffering. That factor in a work of art which enables it to transcend reality certainly cannot be detached from style; but it does not consist of the harmony actually realised, of any doubtful unity of form and content, within and without, of individual and society; it is to be found in those features in which discrepancy appears: in the necessary failure of the passionate striving for identity. Instead of exposing itself to this failure in which the style of the great work of art has always achieved self-negation, the inferior work has always relied on its similarity with others – on a surrogate identity.
In the culture industry this imitation finally becomes absolute. Having ceased to be anything but style, it reveals the latter’s secret: obedience to the social hierarchy. Today aesthetic barbarity completes what has threatened the creations of the spirit since they were gathered together as culture and neutralised. To speak of culture was always contrary to culture. Culture as a common denominator already contains in embryo that schematisation and process of cataloguing and classification which bring culture within the sphere of administration. And it is precisely the industrialised, the consequent, subsumption which entirely accords with this notion of culture. By subordinating in the same way and to the same end all areas of intellectual creation, by occupying men’s senses from the time they leave the factory in the evening to the time they clock in again the next morning with matter that bears the impress of the labor process they themselves have to sustain throughout the day, this subsumption mockingly satisfies the concept of a unified culture which the philosophers of personality contrasted with mass culture.
And so the culture industry, the most rigid of all styles, proves to be the goal of liberalism, which is reproached for its lack of style. Not only do its categories and contents derive from liberalism – domesticated naturalism as well as operetta and revue – but the modern culture monopolies form the economic area in which, together with the corresponding entrepreneurial types, for the time being some part of its sphere of operation survives, despite the process of disintegration elsewhere.
It is still possible to make one’s way in entertainment, if one is not too obstinate about one’s own concerns, and proves appropriately pliable. Anyone who resists can only survive by fitting in. Once his particular brand of deviation from the norm has been noted by the industry, he belongs to it as does the land-reformer to capitalism. Realistic dissidence is the trademark of anyone who has a new idea in business. In the public voice of modern society accusations are seldom audible; if they are, the perceptive can already detect signs that the dissident will soon be reconciled. The more immeasurable the gap between chorus and leaders, the more certainly there is room at the top for everybody who demonstrates his superiority by well-planned originality. Hence, in the culture industry, too, the liberal tendency to give full scope to its able men survives.
To do this for the efficient today is still the function of the market, which is otherwise proficiently controlled; as for the market’s freedom, in the high period of art as elsewhere, it was freedom for the stupid to starve. Significantly, the system of the culture industry comes from the more liberal industrial nations, and all its characteristic media, such as movies, radio, jazz, and magazines, flourish there. Its progress, to be sure, had its origin in the general laws of capital. Gaumont and Pathe, Ullstein and Hugenberg followed the international trend with some success; Europe’s economic dependence on the United States after war and inflation was a contributory factor. The belief that the barbarity of the culture industry is a result of “cultural lag,” of the fact that the American consciousness did not keep up with the growth of technology, is quite wrong. It was pre-Fascist Europe which did not keep up with the trend toward the culture monopoly.
But it was this very lag which left intellect and creativity some degree of independence and enabled its last representatives to exist – however dismally. In Germany the failure of democratic control to permeate life had led to a paradoxical situation. Many things were exempt from the market mechanism which had invaded the Western countries. The German educational system, universities, theatres with artistic standards, great orchestras, and museums enjoyed protection. The political powers, state and municipalities, which had inherited such institutions from absolutism, had left them with a measure of the freedom from the forces of power which dominates the market, just as princes and feudal lords had done up to the nineteenth century. This strengthened art in this late phase against the verdict of supply and demand, and increased its resistance far beyond the actual degree of protection. In the market itself the tribute of a quality for which no use had been found was turned into purchasing power; in this way, respectable literary and music publishers could help authors who yielded little more in the way of profit than the respect of the connoisseur.
But what completely fettered the artist was the pressure (and the accompanying drastic threats), always to fit into business life as an aesthetic expert. Formerly, like Kant and Hume, they signed their letters “Your most humble and obedient servant,” and undermined the foundations of throne and altar. Today they address heads of government by their first names, yet in every artistic activity they are subject to their illiterate masters.
The analysis Tocqueville offered a century ago has in the meantime proved wholly accurate. Under the private culture monopoly it is a fact that “tyranny leaves the body free and directs its attack at the soul. The ruler no longer says: You must think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do; your life, your property, everything shall remain yours, but from this day on you are a stranger among us.” Not to conform means to be rendered powerless, economically and therefore spiritually – to be “self-employed.” When the outsider is excluded from the concern, he can only too easily be accused of incompetence.
Whereas today in material production the mechanism of supply and demand is disintegrating, in the superstructure it still operates as a check in the rulers’ favour. The consumers are the workers and employees, the farmers and lower middle class. Capitalist production so confines them, body and soul, that they fall helpless victims to what is offered them. As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than did the rulers themselves, the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities. It is stronger even than the rigorism of the Hays Office, just as in certain great times in history it has inflamed greater forces that were turned against it, namely, the terror of the tribunals. It calls for Mickey Rooney in preference to the tragic Garbo, for Donald Duck instead of Betty Boop. The industry submits to the vote which it has itself inspired. What is a loss for the firm which cannot fully exploit a contract with a declining star is a legitimate expense for the system as a whole. By craftily sanctioning the demand for rubbish it inaugurates total harmony. The connoisseur and the expert are despised for their pretentious claim to know better than the others, even though culture is democratic and distributes its privileges to all. In view of the ideological truce, the conformism of the buyers and the effrontery of the producers who supply them prevail. The result is a constant reproduction of the same thing.
A constant sameness governs the relationship to the past as well. What is new about the phase of mass culture compared with the late liberal stage is the exclusion of the new. The machine rotates on the same spot. While determining consumption it excludes the untried as a risk. The movie-makers distrust any manuscript which is not reassuringly backed by a bestseller. Yet for this very reason there is never-ending talk of ideas, novelty, and surprise, of what is taken for granted but has never existed. Tempo and dynamics serve this trend. Nothing remains as of old; everything has to run incessantly, to keep moving. For only the universal triumph of the rhythm of mechanical production and reproduction promises that nothing changes, and nothing unsuitable will appear. Any additions to the well-proven culture inventory are too much of a speculation. The ossified forms – such as the sketch, short story, problem film, or hit song – are the standardised average of late liberal taste, dictated with threats from above. The people at the top in the culture agencies, who work in harmony as only one manager can with another, whether he comes from the rag trade or from college, have long since reorganised and rationalised the objective spirit. One might think that an omnipresent authority had sifted the material and drawn up an official catalogue of cultural commodities to provide a smooth supply of available mass-produced lines. The ideas are written in the cultural firmament where they had already been numbered by Plato – and were indeed numbers, incapable of increase and immutable.
Amusement and all the elements of the culture industry existed long before the latter came into existence. Now they are taken over from above and brought up to date. The culture industry can pride itself on having energetically executed the previously clumsy transposition of art into the sphere of consumption, on making this a principle, on divesting amusement of its obtrusive naïvetes and improving the type of commodities. The more absolute it became, the more ruthless it was in forcing every outsider either into bankruptcy or into a syndicate, and became more refined and elevated – until it ended up as a synthesis of Beethoven and the Casino de Paris. It enjoys a double victory: the truth it extinguishes without it can reproduce at will as a lie within. “Light” art as such, distraction, is not a decadent form. Anyone who complains that it is a betrayal of the ideal of pure expression is under an illusion about society. The purity of bourgeois art, which hypostasised itself as a world of freedom in contrast to what was happening in the material world, was from the beginning bought with the exclusion of the lower classes – with whose cause, the real universality, art keeps faith precisely by its freedom from the ends of the false universality. Serious art has been withheld from those for whom the hardship and oppression of life make a mockery of seriousness, and who must be glad if they can use time not spent at the production line just to keep going. Light art has been the shadow of autonomous art. It is the social bad conscience of serious art. The truth which the latter necessarily lacked because of its social premises gives the other the semblance of legitimacy. The division itself is the truth: it does at least express the negativity of the culture which the different spheres constitute. Least of all can the antithesis be reconciled by absorbing light into serious art, or vice versa. But that is what the culture industry attempts.
The eccentricity of the circus, peepshow, and brothel is as embarrassing to it as that of Schönberg and Karl Kraus. And so the jazz musician Benny Goodman appears with the Budapest string quartet, more pedantic rhythmically than any philharmonic clarinettist, while the style of the Budapest players is as uniform and sugary as that of Guy Lombardo. But what is significant is not vulgarity, stupidity, and lack of polish.
The culture industry did away with yesterday’s rubbish by its own perfection, and by forbidding and domesticating the amateurish, although it constantly allows gross blunders without which the standard of the exalted style cannot be perceived. But what is new is that the irreconcilable elements of culture, art and distraction, are subordinated to one end and subsumed under one false formula: the totality of the culture industry. It consists of repetition. That its characteristic innovations are never anything more than improvements of mass reproduction is not external to the system. It is with good reason that the interest of innumerable consumers is directed to the technique, and not to the contents – which are stubbornly repeated, outworn, and by now half-discredited. The social power which the spectators worship shows itself more effectively in the omnipresence of the stereotype imposed by technical skill than in the stale ideologies for which the ephemeral contents stand in.
Nevertheless the culture industry remains the entertainment business. Its influence over the consumers is established by entertainment; that will ultimately be broken not by an outright decree, but by the hostility inherent in the principle of entertainment to what is greater than itself. Since all the trends of the culture industry are profoundly embedded in the public by the whole social process, they are encouraged by the survival of the market in this area. Demand has not yet been replaced by simple obedience. As is well known, the major reorganisation of the film industry shortly before World War I, the material prerequisite of its expansion, was precisely its deliberate acceptance of the public’s needs as recorded at the box-office – a procedure which was hardly thought necessary in the pioneering days of the screen. The same opinion is held today by the captains of the film industry, who take as their criterion the more or less phenomenal song hits but wisely never have recourse to the judgment of truth, the opposite criterion. Business is their ideology. It is quite correct that the power of the culture industry resides in its identification with a manufactured need, and not in simple contrast to it, even if this contrast were one of complete power and complete powerlessness.
Amusement under late capitalism is the prolongation of work. It is sought after as an escape from the mechanised work process, and to recruit strength in order to be able to cope with it again. But at the same time mechanisation has such power over a man’s leisure and happiness, and so profoundly determines the manufacture of amusement goods, that his experiences are inevitably after-images of the work process itself. The ostensible content is merely a faded foreground; what sinks in is the automatic succession of standardised operations. What happens at work, in the factory, or in the office can only be escaped from by approximation to it in one’s leisure time.
All amusement suffers from this incurable malady. Pleasure hardens into boredom because, if it is to remain pleasure, it must not demand any effort and therefore moves rigorously in the worn grooves of association. No independent thinking must be expected from the audience: the product prescribes every reaction: not by its natural structure (which collapses under reflection), but by signals. Any logical connection calling for mental effort is painstakingly avoided. As far as possible, developments must follow from the immediately preceding situation and never from the idea of the whole. For the attentive movie-goer any individual scene will give him the whole thing. Even the set pattern itself still seems dangerous, offering some meaning – wretched as it might be – where only meaninglessness is acceptable. Often the plot is maliciously deprived of the development demanded by characters and matter according to the old pattern. Instead, the next step is what the script writer takes to be the most striking effect in the particular situation. Banal though elaborate surprise interrupts the story-line.
The tendency mischievously to fall back on pure nonsense, which was a legitimate part of popular art, farce and clowning, right up to Chaplin and the Marx Brothers, is most obvious in the unpretentious kinds. This tendency has completely asserted itself in the text of the novelty song, in the thriller movie, and in cartoons, although in films starring Greer Garson and Bette Davis the unity of the socio-psychological case study provides something approximating a claim to a consistent plot. The idea itself, together with the objects of comedy and terror, is massacred and fragmented. Novelty songs have always existed on a contempt for meaning which, as predecessors and successors of psychoanalysis, they reduce to the monotony of sexual symbolism. Today, detective and adventure films no longer give the audience the opportunity to experience the resolution. In the non-ironic varieties of the genre, it has also to rest content with the simple horror of situations which have almost ceased to be linked in any way.
Cartoons were once exponents of fantasy as opposed to rationalism. They ensured that justice was done to the creatures and objects they electrified, by giving the maimed specimens a second life. All they do today is to confirm the victory of technological reason over truth. A few years ago they had a consistent plot which only broke up in the final moments in a crazy chase, and thus resembled the old slapstick comedy. Now, however, time relations have shifted. In the very first sequence a motive is stated so that in the course of the action destruction can get to work on it: with the audience in pursuit, the protagonist becomes the worthless object of general violence. The quantity of organised amusement changes into the quality of organised cruelty. The self-elected censors of the film industry (with whom it enjoys a close relationship) watch over the unfolding of the crime, which is as drawn-out as a hunt. Fun replaces the pleasure which the sight of an embrace would allegedly afford, and postpones satisfaction till the day of the pogrom. Insofar as cartoons do any more than accustom the senses to the new tempo, they hammer into every brain the old lesson that continuous friction, the breaking down of all individual resistance, is the condition of life in this society. Donald Duck in the cartoons and the unfortunate in real life get their thrashing so that the audience can learn to take their own punishment.
The enjoyment of the violence suffered by the movie character turns into violence against the spectator, and distraction into exertion. Nothing that the experts have devised as a stimulant must escape the weary eye; no stupidity is allowed in the face of all the trickery; one has to follow everything and even display the smart responses shown and recommended in the film. This raises the question whether the culture industry fulfils the function of diverting minds which it boasts about so loudly. If most of the radio stations and movie theatres were closed down, the consumers would probably not lose so very much. To walk from the street into the movie theatre is no longer to enter a world of dream; as soon as the very existence of these institutions no longer made it obligatory to use them, there would be no great urge to do so. Such closures would not be reactionary machine wrecking. The disappointment would be felt not so much by the enthusiasts as by the slow-witted, who are the ones who suffer for everything anyhow. In spite of the films which are intended to complete her integration, the housewife finds in the darkness of the movie theatre a place of refuge where she can sit for a few hours with nobody watching, just as she used to look out of the window when there were still homes and rest in the evening. The unemployed in the great cities find coolness in summer and warmth in winter in these temperature-controlled locations. Otherwise, despite its size, this bloated pleasure apparatus adds no dignity to man’s lives. The idea of “fully exploiting” available technical resources and the facilities for aesthetic mass consumption is part of the economic system which refuses to exploit resources to abolish hunger.
The culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of what it perpetually promises. The promissory note which, with its plots and staging, it draws on pleasure is endlessly prolonged; the promise, which is actually all the spectacle consists of, is illusory: all it actually confirms is that the real point will never be reached, that the diner must be satisfied with the menu. In front of the appetite stimulated by all those brilliant names and images there is finally set no more than a commendation of the depressing everyday world it sought to escape. Of course works of art were not sexual exhibitions either. However, by representing deprivation as negative, they retracted, as it were, the prostitution of the impulse and rescued by mediation what was denied.
The secret of aesthetic sublimation is its representation of fulfilment as a broken promise. The culture industry does not sublimate; it represses. By repeatedly exposing the objects of desire, breasts in a clinging sweater or the naked torso of the athletic hero, it only stimulates the unsublimated forepleasure which habitual deprivation has long since reduced to a masochistic semblance. There is no erotic situation which, while insinuating and exciting, does not fail to indicate unmistakably that things can never go that far. The Hays Office merely confirms the ritual of Tantalus that the culture industry has established anyway. Works of art are ascetic and unashamed; the culture industry is pornographic and prudish. Love is downgraded to romance. And, after the descent, much is permitted; even license as a marketable speciality has its quota bearing the trade description “daring.” The mass production of the sexual automatically achieves its repression. Because of his ubiquity, the film star with whom one is meant to fall in love is from the outset a copy of himself. Every tenor voice comes to sound like a Caruso record, and the “natural” faces of Texas girls are like the successful models by whom Hollywood has typecast them. The mechanical reproduction of beauty, which reactionary cultural fanaticism wholeheartedly serves in its methodical idolisation of individuality, leaves no room for that unconscious idolatry which was once essential to beauty.
The triumph over beauty is celebrated by humour – the Schadenfreude that every successful deprivation calls forth. There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh at. Laughter, whether conciliatory or terrible, always occurs when some fear passes. It indicates liberation either from physical danger or from the grip of logic. Conciliatory laughter is heard as the echo of an escape from power; the wrong kind overcomes fear by capitulating to the forces which are to be feared. It is the echo of power as something inescapable. Fun is a medicinal bath. The pleasure industry never fails to prescribe it. It makes laughter the instrument of the fraud practised on happiness. Moments of happiness are without laughter; only operettas and films portray sex to the accompaniment of resounding laughter. But Baudelaire is as devoid of humour as Hölderlin. In the false society laughter is a disease which has attacked happiness and is drawing it into its worthless totality. To laugh at something is always to deride it, and the life which, according to Bergson, in laughter breaks through the barrier, is actually an invading barbaric life, self-assertion prepared to parade its liberation from any scruple when the social occasion arises. Such a laughing audience is a parody of humanity. Its members are monads, all dedicated to the pleasure of being ready for anything at the expense of everyone else. Their harmony is a caricature of solidarity. What is fiendish about this false laughter is that it is a compelling parody of the best, which is conciliatory. Delight is austere: res severa verum gaudium. The monastic theory that not asceticism but the sexual act denotes the renunciation of attainable bliss receives negative confirmation in the gravity of the lover who with foreboding commits his life to the fleeting moment. In the culture industry, jovial denial takes the place of the pain found in ecstasy and in asceticism. The supreme law is that they shall not satisfy their desires at any price; they must laugh and be content with laughter. In every product of the culture industry, the permanent denial imposed by civilisation is once again unmistakably demonstrated and inflicted on its victims. To offer and to deprive them of something is one and the same. This is what happens in erotic films. Precisely because it must never take place, everything centres upon copulation. In films it is more strictly forbidden for an illegitimate relationship to be admitted without the parties being punished than for a millionaire’s future son-in-law to be active in the labour movement. In contrast to the liberal era, industrialised as well as popular culture may wax indignant at capitalism, but it cannot renounce the threat of castration. This is fundamental. It outlasts the organised acceptance of the uniformed seen in the films which are produced to that end, and in reality. What is decisive today is no longer puritanism, although it still asserts itself in the form of women’s organisations, but the necessity inherent in the system not to leave the customer alone, not for a moment to allow him any suspicion that resistance is possible.
The principle dictates that he should be shown all his needs as capable of-fulfilment, but that those needs should be so predetermined that he feels himself to be the eternal consumer, the object of the culture industry. Not only does it make him believe that the deception it practices is satisfaction, but it goes further and implies that, whatever the state of affairs, he must put up with what is offered. The escape from everyday drudgery which the whole culture industry promises may be compared to the daughter’s abduction in the cartoon: the father is holding the ladder in the dark. The paradise offered by the culture industry is the same old drudgery. Both escape and elopement are pre-designed to lead back to the starting point. Pleasure promotes the resignation which it ought to help to forget.
Even today the culture industry dresses works of art like political slogans and forces them upon a resistant public at reduced prices; they are as accessible for public enjoyment as a park. But the disappearance of their genuine commodity character does not mean that they have been abolished in the life of a free society, but that the last defence against their reduction to culture goods has fallen. The abolition of educational privilege by the device of clearance sales does not open for the masses the spheres from which they were formerly excluded, but, given existing social conditions, contributes directly to the decay of education and the progress of barbaric meaninglessness. Those who spent their money in the nineteenth or the early twentieth century to see a play or to go to a concert respected the performance as much as the money they spent. The bourgeois who wanted to get something out of it tried occasionally to establish some rapport with the work. Evidence for this is to be found in the literary “introductions” to works, or in the commentaries on Faust. These were the first steps toward the biographical coating and other practices to which a work of art is subjected today.
Even in the early, prosperous days of business, exchange-value did carry use value as a mere appendix but had developed it as a prerequisite for its own existence; this was socially helpful for works of art. Art exercised some restraint on the bourgeois as long as it cost money. That is now a thing of the past. Now that it has lost every restraint and there is no need to pay any money, the proximity of art to those who are exposed to it completes the alienation and assimilates one to the other under the banner of triumphant objectivity. Criticism and respect disappear in the culture industry; the former becomes a mechanical expertise, the latter is succeeded by a shallow cult of leading personalities. Consumers now find nothing expensive. Nevertheless, they suspect that the less anything costs, the less it is being given them. The double mistrust of traditional culture as ideology is combined with mistrust of industrialised culture as a swindle. When thrown in free, the now debased works of art, together with the rubbish to which the medium assimilates them, are secretly rejected by the fortunate recipients, who are supposed to be satisfied by the mere fact that there is so much to be seen and heard. Everything can be obtained. The screenos and vaudevilles in the movie theatre, the competitions for guessing music, the free books, rewards and gifts offered on certain radio programs, are not mere accidents but a continuation of the practice obtaining with culture products. The symphony becomes a reward for listening to the radio, and – if technology had its way - the film would be delivered to people’s homes as happens with the radio. It is moving toward the commercial system. Television points the way to a development which might easily enough force the Warner Brothers into what would certainly be the unwelcome position of serious musicians and cultural conservatives. But the gift system has already taken hold among consumers. As culture is represented as a bonus with undoubted private and social advantages, they have to seize the chance. They rush in lest they miss something. Exactly what, is not clear, but in any case the only ones with a chance are the participants. Fascism, however, hopes to use the training the culture industry has given these recipients of gifts, in order to organise them into its own forced battalions.
Culture is a paradoxical commodity. So completely is it subject to the law of exchange that it is no longer exchanged; it is so blindly consumed in use that it can no longer be used. Therefore it amalgamates with advertising. The more meaningless the latter seems to be under a monopoly, the more omnipotent it becomes. The motives are markedly economic.
One could certainly live without the culture industry, therefore it necessarily creates too much satiation and apathy. In itself, it has few resources itself to correct this. Advertising is its elixir of life. But as its product never fails to reduce to a mere promise the enjoyment which it promises as a commodity, it eventually coincides with publicity, which it needs because it cannot be enjoyed. In a competitive society, advertising performed the social service of informing the buyer about the market; it made choice easier and helped the unknown but more efficient supplier to dispose of his goods. Far from costing time, it saved it.
Today, when the free market is coming to an end, those who control the system are entrenching themselves in it. It strengthens the firm bond between the consumers and the big combines. Only those who can pay the exorbitant rates charged by the advertising agencies, chief of which are the radio networks themselves; that is, only those who are already in a position to do so, or are co-opted by the decision of the banks and industrial capital, can enter the pseudo-market as sellers. The costs of advertising, which finally flow back into the pockets of the combines, make it unnecessary to defeat unwelcome outsiders by laborious competition. They guarantee that power will remain in the same hands – not unlike those economic decisions by which the establishment and running of undertakings is controlled in a totalitarian state. Advertising today is a negative principle, a blocking device: everything that does not bear its stamp is economically suspect. Universal publicity is in no way necessary for people to get to know the kinds of goods – whose supply is restricted anyway. It helps sales only indirectly. For a particular firm, to phase out a current advertising practice constitutes a loss of prestige, and a breach of the discipline imposed by the influential clique on its members. In wartime, goods which are unobtainable are still advertised, merely to keep industrial power in view. Subsidising ideological media is more important than the repetition of the name. Because the system obliges every product to use advertising, it has permeated the idiom – the “style” – of the culture industry. Its victory is so complete that it is no longer evident in the key positions: the huge buildings of the top men, floodlit stone advertisements, are free of advertising; at most they exhibit on the rooftops, in monumental brilliance and without any self-glorification, the firm’s initials. But, in contrast, the nineteenth-century houses, whose architecture still shamefully indicates that they can be used as a consumption commodity and are intended to be lived in, are covered with posters and inscriptions from the ground right up to and beyond the roof: until they become no more than backgrounds for bills and sign-boards. Advertising becomes art and nothing else, just as Goebbels – with foresight – combines them: l’art pour l’art, advertising for its own sake, a pure representation of social power. In the most influential American magazines, Life and Fortune, a quick glance can now scarcely distinguish advertising from editorial picture and text. The latter features an enthusiastic and gratuitous account of the great man (with illustrations of his life and grooming habits) which will bring him new fans, while the advertisement pages use so many factual photographs and details that they represent the ideal of information which the editorial part has only begun to try to achieve.
The assembly-line character of the culture industry, the synthetic, planned method of turning out its products (factory-like not only in the studio but, more or less, in the compilation of cheap biographies, pseudo-documentary novels, and hit songs) is very suited to advertising: the important individual points, by becoming detachable, interchangeable, and even technically alienated from any connected meaning, lend themselves to ends external to the work. The effect, the trick, the isolated repeatable device, have always been used to exhibit goods for advertising purposes, and today every monster close-up of a star is an advertisement for her name, and every hit song a plug for its tune. Advertising and the culture industry merge technically as well as economically. In both cases the same thing can be seen in innumerable places, and the mechanical repetition of the same culture product has come to be the same as that of the propaganda slogan. In both cases the insistent demand for effectiveness makes technology into psycho-technology, into a procedure for manipulating men. In both cases the standards are the striking yet familiar, the easy yet catchy, the skilful yet simple; the object is to overpower the customer, who is conceived as absent-minded or resistant.
By the language he speaks, he makes his own contribution to culture as publicity. The more completely language is lost in the announcement, the more words are debased as substantial vehicles of meaning and become signs devoid of quality; the more purely and transparently words communicate what is intended, the more impenetrable they become.
The demythologisation of language, taken as an element of the whole process of enlightenment, is a relapse into magic. Word and essential content were distinct yet inseparable from one another. Concepts like melancholy and history, even life, were recognised in the word, which separated them out and preserved them. Its form simultaneously constituted and reflected them. The absolute separation, which makes the moving accidental and its relation to the object arbitrary, puts an end to the superstitious fusion of word and thing.
Anything in a determined literal sequence which goes beyond the correlation to the event is rejected as unclear and as verbal metaphysics. But the result is that the word, which can now be only a sign without any meaning, becomes so fixed to the thing that it is just a petrified formula. This affects language and object alike. Instead of making the object experiential, the purified word treats it as an abstract instance, and everything else (now excluded by the demand for ruthless clarity from expression – itself now banished) fades away in reality. A left-half at football, a black-shirt, a member of the Hitler Youth, and so on, are no more than names. If before its rationalisation the word had given rise to lies as well as to longing, now, after its rationalisation, it is a straitjacket for longing more even than for lies.
The blindness and dumbness of the data to which positivism reduces the world pass over into language itself, which restricts itself to recording those data. Terms themselves become impenetrable; they obtain a striking force, a power of adhesion and repulsion which makes them like their extreme opposite, incantations. They come to be a kind of trick, because the name of the prima donna is cooked up in the studio on a statistical basis, or because a welfare state is anathematised by using taboo terms such as “bureaucrats” or “intellectuals,” or because base practice uses the name of the country as a charm.
In general, the name – to which magic most easily attaches – is undergoing a chemical change: a metamorphosis into capricious, manipulable designations, whose effect is admittedly now calculable, but which for that very reason is just as despotic as that of the archaic name. First names, those archaic remnants, have been brought up to date either by stylisation as advertising trade-marks (film stars’ surnames have become first names), or by collective standardisation.
In comparison, the bourgeois family name which, instead of being a trade-mark, once individualised its bearer by relating him to his own past history, seems antiquated. It arouses a strange embarrassment in Americans. In order to hide the awkward distance between individuals, they call one another “Bob” and “Harry,” as interchangeable team members. This practice reduces relations between human beings to the good fellowship of the sporting community and is a defence against the true kind of relationship.
Signification, which is the only function of a word admitted by semantics, reaches perfection in the sign. Whether folk-songs were rightly or wrongly called upper-class culture in decay, their elements have only acquired their popular form through a long process of repeated transmission. The spread of popular songs, on the other hand, takes place at lightning speed. The American expression “fad,” used for fashions which appear like epidemics – that is, inflamed by highly-concentrated economic forces – designated this phenomenon long before totalitarian advertising bosses enforced the general lines of culture. When the German Fascists decide one day to launch a word – say, “intolerable” – over the loudspeakers the next day the whole nation is saying “intolerable.” By the same pattern, the nations against whom the weight of the German blitzkrieg was thrown took the word into their own jargon. The general repetition of names for measures to be taken by the authorities makes them, so to speak, familiar, just as the brand name on everybody’s lips increased sales in the era of the free market. The blind and rapidly spreading repetition of words with special designations links advertising with the totalitarian watchword. The layer of experience which created the words for their speakers has been removed; in this swift appropriation language acquires the coldness which until now it had only on billboards and in the advertisement columns of newspapers. Innumerable people use words and expressions which they have either ceased to understand or employ only because they trigger off conditioned reflexes; in this sense, words are trade-marks which are finally all the more firmly linked to the things they denote, the less their linguistic sense is grasped. The minister for mass education talks incomprehendingly of “dynamic forces,” and the hit songs unceasingly celebrate “reverie” and “rhapsody,” yet base their popularity precisely on the magic of the unintelligible as creating the thrill of a more exalted life. Other stereotypes, such as memory, are still partly comprehended, but escape from the experience which might allow them content. They appear like enclaves in the spoken language. On the radio of Flesch and Hitler they may be recognised from the affected pronunciation of the announcer when he says to the nation, “Good night, everybody!” or “This is the Hitler Youth,” and even intones “the Fuehrer” in a way imitated by millions. In such cliches the last bond between sedimentary experience and language is severed which still had a reconciling effect in dialect in the nineteenth century. But in the prose of the journalist whose adaptable attitude led to his appointment as an all-German editor, the German words become petrified, alien terms. Every word shows how far it has been debased by the Fascist pseudo-folk community.
By now, of course, this kind of language is already universal, totalitarian. All the violence done to words is so vile that one can hardly bear to hear them any longer. The announcer does not need to speak pompously; he would indeed be impossible if his inflection were different from that of his particular audience. But, as against that, the language and gestures of the audience and spectators are coloured more strongly than ever before by the culture industry, even in fine nuances which cannot yet be explained experimentally.
Today the culture industry has taken over the civilising inheritance of the entrepreneurial and frontier democracy – whose appreciation of intellectual deviations was never very finely attuned. All are free to dance and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical neutralisation of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects. But freedom to choose an ideology – since ideology always reflects economic coercion – everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same. The way in which a girl accepts and keeps the obligatory date, the inflection on the telephone or in the most intimate situation, the choice of words in conversation, and the whole inner life as classified by the now somewhat devalued depth psychology, bear witness to man’s attempt to make himself a proficient apparatus, similar (even in emotions) to the model served up by the culture industry.
The most intimate reactions of human beings have been so thoroughly reified that the idea of anything specific to themselves now persists only as an utterly abstract notion: personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odour and emotions. The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.
It is a great honour and at the same time a necessity for me to
round out and develop my thoughts on the foundations of mathematics,
which was expounded here one day five years ago and which since
then have constantly kept me most actively occupied. With this
new way of providing a foundation for mathematics, which we may
appropriately call a proof theory, I pursue a significant goal,
for I should like to eliminate once and for all the questions
regarding the foundations of mathematics, in the form in which
they are now posed, by turning every mathematical proposition
into a formula that can be concretely exhibited and strictly derived,
thus recasting mathematical definitions and inferences in such
a way that they are unshakeable and yet provide an adequate picture
of the whole science. I believe that I can attain this goal completely
with my proof theory, even if a great deal of work must still
be done before it is fully developed.
No more than any other science can mathematics be founded by logic
alone; rather, as a condition for the use of logical inferences
and the performance of logical operations, something must already
be given to us in our faculty of representation, certain extra-logical
concrete objects that are intuitively present as immediate experience
prior to in thought. If logical inference is to be reliable,
it must be possible to survey these objects completely in all
their parts, and the fact that they occur, that they differ from
one another, and that they follow each other, or are concatenated,
is immediate, given intuitively, together with the objects, is
something that neither can be reduced to anything else nor requires
reduction. This is the basic philosophical position that I regard
as requisite for mathematics and, in general, for all scientific
thinking, understanding, and communication. And in mathematics,
in particular, we consider is the concrete signs themselves, whose
shape, according to the conception we have adopted, is immediately,
clear and recognisable. This is the very least that must be presupposed;
no scientific thinker can dispense with it, and therefore everyone
must maintain it, consciously, or not.
I shall now present the fundamental idea of my proof theory.
All the propositions that constitute in mathematics are converted
into formulas, so that mathematics proper becomes all inventory
of formulas. These differ from the ordinary formulas of mathematics
only in that, besides the ordinary signs, the logical signs
| ⇒ || & || v||~|| ∀ (x) || (∃x) |
| implies || and || or || not ||for all||there exists|
also occur in them. Certain formulas, which serve as building
blocks for the formal edifice of mathematics, are called axioms.
A proof is an array that must be given as such to our perceptual
intuition of it of inferences according to the schema
where each of the premises, that is, the formulae, Š
and Š ⇒ Ý in the array either is an axiom
or directly from an axiom by substitution, or else coincides with
the end formula of an inference occurring earlier in the proof
or results from it by substitution. A formula is said to be provable
if it is either an axiom or the end formula of a proof.
The axioms and provable propositions, that is, the formulas resulting
from this procedure, are copies of the thoughts constituting customary
mathematics as it has developed till now.
Through the program outlined here the choice of axioms for our
proof theory is already indicated; we arrange them as follows.
I. Axioms of implication,
1. A ⇒ (B ⇒ A) (introduction
of an assumption)
2. (A ⇒ (A ⇒ B) )
⇒ (A ⇒ B) (omission of an
3- (A ⇒ (B ⇒ C) )
⇒ (B ⇒ (A ⇒ C)
) (interchange of assumptions)
4. (B ⇒ C) ⇒ ( (A
⇒ B) ⇒ (A ⇒ C)
) (elimination of a proposition).
II. Axioms about & and v
5. A & B ⇒ A;
6. A & B ⇒ B;
7. A ⇒ (B ⇒ A
8. A ⇒ A v B;
9. B ⇒ A v B;
10. ((A ⇒ C) & (B
⇒ C)) ⇒ ((A v B)
III. Axioms of negation,
11. (A ⇒ B & ~B) ⇒
~A (principle of contradiction);
12. ~(~A)) ⇒ A (principle
of double negation).
The axioms of groups I, II, and III are nothing but the axioms
of the propositional calculus. From 11 and 12 there follows,
in particular, the formula
(A & ~(A)) ⇒ B
and further the logical principle of excluded middle,
((A ⇒ B) & (~A
⇒ B) ) ⇒ B.
IV. The logical e-axiom
13. A(a) ⇒ A (e(A)).
Here e(A) stands for an object of which the proposition
A(a) certainly holds if it holds of any object at
all; let us call e the logical e-function. To elucidate
the role of the logical E-function let us make the following remarks.
In the formal system the e-function is used in three ways.
1. By means of e "all" and "there exists
" can be defined, namely, as follows:
∀(a) A (a) ⇔
Here the double arrow ( ⇔ ) stands for
a combination of two implication formulas; in its place we shall
henceforth use the "equivalence" sign ≡ .
On the basis of this definition the e-axiom IV 13 yields
the logical relations that hold for the universal and the existential
quantifier, such is
∀(a)A(a) ⇒ A(b)
and ~(∀(a)A(a) ) ⇒
(∃a)(~A(a)) (principle of excluded
2. If a proposition Y holds of one and only one object,
then e(Y) is the object of which Y(a)
The e-function thus enables us to resolve t proposition
such as Y(a), when it holds of only one object,
so as to obtain
a = e(Y)
3. Beyond this, e takes on the role of the choice function;
that is, in case A(a) holds of several objects,
e(Y) is some one of the objects a
of which Y(a) holds.
In addition to these purely logical axioms we have the following
specifically mathematical axioms.
V. Axioms of equality
14. a = a;
15. (a = b) ⇒ (A(a) ⇒
VI. Axioms of Number
16. a' ≠ 0; (≠ for "not=")
17. (A(0) & ∀(a)(A(a)
⇒ A(a'))) ⇒ A(b)
(principle of mathematical induction).
Here a' denotes the number following and the integers 1,
2, 3, . . . can be written in the form 0', 0'', 0''',..
For the numbers of the second number class and of Cantor's higher
number classes the corresponding induction axioms must be added;
they would have to be combined, however, into a schema in agreement
with Cantor's theory.
Finally, we also need explicit definitions, which introduce the
notions of mathematics and have the character of axioms, as well
as certain recursion axioms, which result from a general recursion
schema. Before we discuss the formulation of these axioms, we
must first lay down the rules that govern the use of axioms in
general. For in my theory contentual inference is replaced by
manipulation of signs according to rules; in this way the axiomatic
method attains that reliability, and perfection that it can and
must reach if it is to become the basic instrument of .all theoretical
First, the following stipulations hold.
For mathematical variables we always use lower-case italic Latin
letters, but for constant mathematical objects (specific functions)
lower-case Greek letters.
For variable atomic propositions (indeterminate formulas) we always
use capital italic Latin letters, but for constant atomic propositions
capital Greek letters, for example,
Z(a) [a is a natural number]
N(a) [a is a number of the second number class].
Concerning the procedure of substitution, the following general
For propositional variables we may substitute only formulas, that
is, arrays constructed from elementary formulas by means of the
The elementary formulas are the formula variables, possibly with
attached, and the signs for constant propositions, such as
Z, N, = , <
with the associated argument places filled.
Any array may be substituted for a mathematical variable; however,
when a mathematical variable occurs in a formula, the constant
proposition that states of what kind the variable is, followed
by the implication sign, must always precede, for example,
Z(a) ⇒ a + 1 = 1 + a,
N(a) ⇒ N(a').
This convention has the effect that only substituends that are
ordinary numbers or numbers of the second number class come into
consideration after all. In Axioms V and VI the propositions
Z(a) and Z(b), which should precede,
were omitted for the sake of brevity.
German capital and lower-case letters have reference and are used
only to convey information.
The mathematical variables are of two kinds: (1) the primitive
variables and (2) the variable-sorts.
1. Now while in all of arithmetic and analysis the ordinary integer
suffices as sole primitive variable, with each of Cantor's transfinite
number classes there is associated a primitive variable that ranges
over precisely the ordinals of that class. Hence to each primitive
variable there corresponds a proposition that states of what kind
it is; this proposition is implicitly characterised by axioms.
With each primitive variable there is associated one kind of recursion,
by means of which we define functions whose argument is that primitive
variable. The recursion associated with the number-theoretic
variable is "ordinary recursion", by means of which
t function of t number-theoretic variable n is defined when we
indicate what value it has for n = 0 and how the value
for n' is obtained from that for n. The generalisation
of ordinary recursion is transfinite recursion; it rests upon
the general principle that the value of the function for a value
of the variable is determined by means of the preceding values
of the function.
2. From the primitive variables we derive further kinds of variables
by applying logical connectives to the propositions associated
with the primitive variables, for example, to Z. The variables
thus defined are called variable-sorts, and the propositions defining
them are called sort-propositions; for each of these a new particular
sign is introduced. Thus the formula
F(f) ≡ ∀(a)(Z(a)
- Z(f (a)))
offers the simplest instance of a variable-sort; this formula
defines the sort of the function variable (" being-a-function
"). A further example is the formula
F(g) - (f)((P(f)
it defines the "being-a-function-of-a-function"; the
argument g is the new function-of-a-function variable.
To produce the higher variable-sorts we must provide the sort-propositions
themselves with subscripts, thus making a recursion procedure
We can now characterise what is to be understood by explicit definitions
and by recursion axioms: An explicit definition is an equivalence
or identity that on its left side has the sign to be defined (capital
or lower-case Greek [bold] letter), along with certain variables
as arguments, and on its right side has an array in which only
these arguments occur as free variables and in which no signs
for constants occur except those that have already been introduced.
In a corresponding way, the recursion axioms are formula systems
that are modelled upon the recursive procedure.
These are the general foundations of my theory. To familiarise
you with the way in which it is applied I would like to adduce
some examples of particular functions as they are defined by recursion.
If we now begin to construct mathematics, we shall first set our
sights upon elementary number theory; we recognise that we can
obtain and prove its truths through contentual intuitive considerations.
The formulas that we encounter when we take this approach are
used only to impart information. Letters stand for numerals,
and an equation informs us of the fact that two signs stand for
the same thing.
The situation is different in algebra ; in algebra we consider
the expressions formed with letters to be independent objects
in themselves, and the propositions of number theory, which are
included in algebra, are formalised by means of them. Where we
had numerals, we now have formulas, which themselves are concrete
objects that in their turn are considered by our perceptual intuition,
and the derivation of one formula from another in accordance with
certain rules takes the place of the number-theoretic proof based
Thus algebra already goes considerable, beyond centennial number
theory. Even the formula 1 + a = a + 1, for example, in which
a is a genuine number-theoretic variable, in algebra no longer
merely imparts information about something contentual but is a
certain formal object, a provable formula, which in itself means
nothing and whose proof cannot be based on content but requires
appeal to the induction axiom.
The formulas 1 + 3 = 3 + 1 and 1 + 7 = 7 + 1, which can be verified
by contentual considerations, can be obtained from the algebraic
formula above only by a proof procedure, such as formal substitution
of the numerals 3 and 7 for a, that is, by the use of a
rule of substitution.
Hence even elementary mathematics contains, first, formulas to
which correspond contentual communications of finitary propositions
(mainly numerical equations or inequalities, or more complex communications
composed of these) and which .we may call the real propositions
of the theory, and second, formulas that - just like the numerals
of contentual number theory - in themselves mean nothing but are
merely things that are governed by our rules and must be regarded
as the ideal objects of the theory.
These considerations show that, to arrive at the conception of
formulas as ideal propositions, we need only pursue
in a natural and consistent way the line of development that mathematical
practice has already followed till now. And it is then natural
and consistent for us to treat henceforth not only the mathematical
variables but also the logical signs, v, &,
etc, and the logical variables, namely, the propositional variables,
A, B, C, . . ., just like the numerals and
letters in algebra and to consider them, too, as signs that in
themselves mean nothing but are merely building blocks for ideal
Indeed, we have an urgent reason for thus extending the formal
point of view of algebra to all of mathematics. For it is the
means of relieving us of a fundamental difficulty that already
makes itself felt in elementary number theory. Again I take as
an example the equation
a + 1 = 1 + a;
if we wanted to regard it as imparting the information that
a + 1 = 1 + a,
where a stands for any given number, then this communication
could not be negated, since the proposition that there exists
a number a for which
a + 1 ≠ 1 + a
holds has no finitary meaning; one cannot, after all, try out
all numbers. Thus, if we adopted the finitist attitude, we could
not make use of the alternative according to which an equation,
like the one above, in which an unspecified numeral occurs either
is satisfied for every numeral or can be refuted by a counter-example.
For, as an application of the "principle of excluded middle",
this alternative depends essentially on the assumption that it
is possible to negate the assertion that the equation in question
But we cannot relinquish the use either of the principle of excluded
middle or of any other law of Aristotelian logic expressed in
our axioms, since the construction of analysis is impossible without
Now the fundamental difficulty that we face here can be avoided
by the use of ideal propositions. For, if to the real propositions
we adjoin the ideal ones, we obtain a system of propositions in
which all the simple, rules of Aristotelian logic hold and all
the usual methods of mathematical inference are valid. Just as,
for example, the negative numbers are indispensable in elementary
number theory and just as modern number theory and algebra become
possible only through the Kummer-Dedekind ideals, so scientific
mathematics becomes possible only through the introduction of
To be sure, one condition, a single but indispensable one, is
always attached to the use of the method of ideal elements, and
that is the proof of consistency; for, extension by the addition
of ideal elements is legitimate only if no contradiction is thereby
brought about in the old, narrower domain, that is, if the relations
that result for the old objects whenever the ideal objects are
eliminated are valid in the old domain.
In the present situation, however, this problem of consistency
is perfectly amenable to treatment. For the point is to show
that, when ideal objects are introduced, it is impossible for
us to obtain two logically contradictory propositions, Y
and ~Y. Now, as I remarked above, the logical
(A & ~A) ⇒ B
follows from the axioms of negation. If in it we substitute the
proposition Y for A and the inequality 0 ≠
0 for B, we obtain
(Y & ~Y) ⇒
(0 ≠ 0).
And, once we have this formula, we can derive the, formula 0 #
0 from Y and ~Y. To prove consistency
we therefore need only show that 0 ≠ 0 cannot be obtained
from our axioms by the rules in force as the end formula of a
proof, hence that 0 ≠ 0 is not a provable formula. And
this is a task that fundamentally lies within the province of
intuition just as much as does in contentual number theory the
task, say, of proving the irrationality of sqrt(2), that is, of
proving that it is impossible to find two numerals a and
b satisfying the relation a2 = 2b2, a problem in which
it must be shown that it is impossible to exhibit two numerals
having a certain property. Correspondingly, the point for us is
to show, that it is impossible to exhibit a proof of a certain
kind. But a formalised proof, like a numeral, is a concrete and
surveyable object. It can be communicated from beginning to end.
That the end formula has the required structure, namely "
0 ≠ 0 ", is also a property of the proof that can
be concretely ascertained. The demonstration can in fact be given,
and this provides us with a justification for the introduction
of our ideal propositions. At the same time we recognise that
this also gives us the solution of a problem that became urgent
long ago, namely, that of proving the consistency of the arithmetic
Wherever the axiomatic method is used it is incumbent upon us
to prove the consistency of the axioms. In geometry and the physical
theories this proof is successfully carried out by means of a
reduction to the consistency of the arithmetic axioms. This method
obviously fails in the case of arithmetic itself. By making this
important final step possible through the method of ideal elements,
our proof theory forms the necessary keystone of the axiomatic
The final test of every new theory is its success in answering
pre-existent questions that the theory was not specifically created
to answer. As soon as Cantor had discovered his first transfinite
numbers, the numbers of the second number class as they are called,
the question arose whether by means of this transfinite counting
one could actually enumerate the elements of sets known in other
contexts but not denumerable in the ordinary sense. The line
segment was the first and foremost set of this kind to come under
consideration. This question, whether the points of the line
segment, that is, the real numbers, can be enumerated by means
of the numbers of the second number class, is the famous problem
of the continuum, which was formulated but not solved by Cantor.
In my paper "On the infinite" (1925) I showed how through
our proof theory this problem becomes amenable to successful treatment.
In order to show that this continuum hypothesis of Cantor's constitutes
a perfectly concrete problem of ordinary analysis, I mention further
that it can be expressed as a formula in the following way:
⇒ N(h(f))) & ∀(f,g)[F(f)
& F(g) ⇒ ((h(f)
= h(g)) ⇒ (f, g))]),
where, to abbreviate, we have put
F(f) for ∀(a)(Z(a)
⇒ Z(f (a)))
(f, g) for ∀(a)(Z(a)
⇒ (f (a) = g(a))).
In this formula there still occurs the proposition N, which
is associated with the primitive variable of the second number
class. But this can be avoided, since, as is well known, the
numbers of the second number class can be represented by well-orderings
of the number sequence-that is, by certain functions that have
two number-theoretic variables and take the values 0 and 1-in
such a way that the proposition in question takes the form of
a proposition purely about functions.
I have already set forth the basic features of this proof theory
of mine on different occasions, in Copenhagen , here in
Hamburg , in Leipzig , and in Munster ; in the
meantime much fault has been found with it, and objections of
all kinds hive been raised against it, all of which I consider
just as unfair as it can be. I would now like to elucidate some
of these points.
Poincaré already made various statements that conflict
with my views; above all, he denied from the outset the possibility
of a consistency proof for the arithmetic axioms, maintaining
that the consistency of the method of mathematical induction could
never be proved except through the inductive method itself. But,
as my theory shows, two distinct methods that proceed recursively
come into play when the foundations of arithmetic are established,
namely, on the one hand, the intuitive construction of the integer
as numeral (to which there also corresponds, in reverse, the decomposition
of any given numeral, or the decomposition of any concretely given
array constructed just as a numeral is), that, is, contentual
induction, and, on the other hand, formal induction proper, which
is based on the induction axiom and through which alone the mathematical
variable can begin to play its role in the formal system.
Poincaré arrives at his mistaken conviction by not distinguishing
between these two methods of induction, which are of entirely
different kinds. Regrettably Poincaré, the mathematician
who in his generation was the richest in ideas and the most fertile,
had a decided prejudice against Cantor's theory, which prevented
him from forming a just opinion of Cantor's magnificent conceptions.
Under these circumstances Poincaré had to reject my theory,
which, incidentally, existed at that time only in its completely
inadequate early stages. Because of his authority, Poincaré
often exerted a one-sided influence on the younger generation.
My theory is opposed on different grounds by the adherents of
Russell and Whitehead's theory of foundations, who regard Principia
Mathematica as a definitively satisfying foundation for mathematics.
Russell and Whitehead's theory of foundations is a general logical
investigation of wide scope. But the foundation that it provides
for mathematics rests, first, upon the axiom of infinity and,
then, upon what is called the axiom of reducibility, and both
of these axioms are genuine contentual assumptions that are not
supported by a consistency proof they are assumptions whose validity
in fact remains dubious and that, in any case, my theory does
In my theory Russell's axiom of reducibility has its counterpart
in the rule for dealing with function variables. But reducibility
is not presupposed in my theory rather, it is recognised as something
that can be compensated for: the execution of the reduction would
be required only in case a proof of a contradiction were given,
and then, according to my proof theory, this reduction would always
be bound to succeed.
Now with regard to the most recent investigations, the fact that
research on foundations has again come to attract such lively
appreciation and interest certainly gives me the greatest pleasure.
When I reflect on the content and the results of these investigations,
however, I cannot for the most part agree with their tendency;
I feel. rather, that they are to a large extent behind the times,
as if they came from a period when Cantor's majestic world of
ideas had not yet been discovered.
In this I see the reason, too, why these most recent investigations
in fact stop short of the great problems of the theory of foundations,
for example, the question of the construction of functions, the
proof or refutation of Cantor's continuum hypothesis, the question
whether all mathematical problems are solvable, and the question
whether consistency and existence are equivalent for mathematical
Of today's literature on the foundations of mathematics, the doctrine
that Brouwer advanced and called intuitionism forms the greater
part. Not because of any inclination for polemics, but in order
to express my views clearly and to prevent misleading, conceptions
of my own theory, I must look more closely into certain of Brouwer's
Brouwer declares (just as Kronecker did in his day) that existence
statements, one and all, are meaningless in themselves unless
they also contain the construction of the object asserted to exist;
for him they are worthless scrip, and their use causes mathematics
to degenerate into a game.
The following may serve as an example showing that a mere existence
proof carried out with the logical e-function is by no
means a piece of worthless scrip.
In order to justify a remark by Gauss to the effect that it is
superfluous for analysis to go beyond the ordinary complex numbers
formed with sqrt(-1), Weierstrass and Dedekind undertook investigations
that also led to the formulation and proof of certain theorems.
Now some time ago I stated a general theorem (1896) on algebraic
forms that is a pure existence statement and by its very nature
cannot be transformed into a statement involving constructibility.
Purely by use of this existence theorem I avoided the lengthy
and unclear argumentation of Weierstrass and the highly complicated
calculations of Dedekind, and in addition. I believe, only my
proof uncovers the inner reason for the validity of the assertions
adumbrated by Gauss and formulated by Weierstrass and Dedekind.
But even if one were not satisfied with consistency and had further
scruples, he would at least have to acknowledge the significance
of the consistency proof as a general method of obtaining finitary
proofs from proofs of general theorems - say of the character
of Fermat's theorem - that are carried out by means of the e-function.
Let us suppose, for example, that we had found, for Fermat's great
theorem, a proof in which the logical function e was used.
We could then make a finitary proof out of it in the following
Let us assume that numerals
p, a, b, c (p > 2)
satisfying Fermat's equation
av + bv = cv
are given; then we could also obtain this equation as a provable
formula by giving the form of a proof to the procedure by which
we ascertain that-the numerals av + bv and cv coincide. On the
other hand, according to our assumption we would have a proof
of the formula
(Z(a) & Z(b) &
Z(c) & Z(p) & (p
> 2)) ⇒ (ap + bp ≠ cp),
av + bv ≠ cv
is obtained by substitution and inference. Hence both
av + bv = cv and
av + bv ≠ cv
would be provable. But, as the consistency proof shows in a finitary
way, this cannot be the case.
The examples cited are, however, only arbitrarily selected special
cases. In fact, mathematics is replete with examples that refute
Brouwer's assertions concerning existence statements.
What, now, is the real state of affairs with respect to the reproach
that mathematics would degenerate into a game?
The source of pure existence theorems is the logical c-axiom,
upon which in turn the construction of all ideal propositions
depends. And to what extent has the formula game thus made possible
been successful? This formula game enables us to express the
entire thought-content of the science of mathematics in a uniform
manner and develop it in such a way that, at the same time, the
interconnections between the individual propositions and facts
become clear. To make it a universal requirement that each individual
formula then be interpretable by itself is by no means reasonable;
on the contrary, a theory by its very nature is such that we do
not need to fall back upon intuition or meaning in the midst of
some argument. What the physicist demands precisely of a theory
is that particular propositions be derived from laws of nature
or hypotheses solely by inferences, hence on the basis of a pure
formula game, without extraneous considerations being adduced.
Only certain combinations and consequences of the physical laws
can be checked by experiment-just as in my proof theory only the
real propositions are directly capable of verification. The value
of pure existence proofs consists precisely in that the individual
Construction is eliminated by them and that many different constructions
are subsumed under one fundamental idea, so that only what is
essential to the proof stands out clearly; brevity and economy
of thought are the raison d'étre of existence proofs.
In fact, pure existence theorems have been the most important
landmarks in the historical development of our science. But such
considerations do not trouble the devout intuitionist.
The formula game that Brouwer so deprecates has, besides its mathematical
value, an important general philosophical significance. For this
formula game is carried out according to certain definite rules,
in which the technique of our thinking is expressed. These
rules form a closed system that can be discovered and definitively
stated. The fundamental idea of my proof theory is none other
than to describe the activity of our understanding, to make a
protocol of the rules according to which our thinking actually
proceeds. Thinking, it so happens, parallels speaking and writing:
we form statements and place them one behind another. If any
totality of observations and phenomena deserves to be made the
object of a serious and thorough investigation, it is this one-since,
after all, it is part of the task of science to liberate us from
arbitrariness, sentiment, and habit and to protect us from the
subjectivism that already made itself felt in Kronecker's views
and, it seems to me, finds its culmination in intuitionism.
Intuitionism's sharpest and most passionate challenge is the one
it flings at the validity of the principle of excluded middle,
for example, in the simplest case, at the validity of the mode
of inference according, to which, for any assertion containing
a number-theoretic variable, either the assertion is correct for
all values of the variable or there exists a number for which
it is false. The principle of excluded middle is a consequence
of the logical c-axiom and has never yet caused the slightest
error. It is, moreover, so clear and comprehensible that misuse
is precluded. In particular, the principle of excluded middle
is not to be blamed in the least for the occurrence of the well-known
paradoxes of set theory; rather, these paradoxes are due merely
to the introduction of inadmissible and meaningless notions, which
are automatically excluded from my proof theory. Existence proofs
carried out with the help of the principle of excluded middle
usually are especially attractive because of their surprising
brevity and elegance. Taking the principle of excluded middle
from the mathematician would be the same, proscribing the telescope
to the astronomer or to the boxer the use of his fists. To prohibit
existence statements and the principle of excluded middle is tantamount
to relinquishing the science of mathematics altogether. For,
compared with the immense expanse of modern mathematics, what
would the wretched remnants mean, the isolated results, incomplete
and unrelated, that the intuitionists naive obtained without the
use of the logical e-axiom ? The theorems of the theory
of functions, such as the theory of- conformal mapping and the
fundamental theorems in the theory of partial differential equations
or of Fourier series - to single out only a few examples from
our science, are merely ideal propositions in my sense and require
the logical e-axiom for their development.
In these circumstances I am astonished that a mathematician should
doubt that the principle of excluded middle is strictly valid
as a mode of inference. I am even more astonished that, as it
seems, a whole community of mathematicians who do the same has
now constituted itself. I am most astonished by the fact that
even in mathematical circles the power of suggestion of a single
man, however full of temperament and inventiveness, is capable
of having the most improbable and eccentric effects.
Not even the sketch of my proof of Cantor's continuum hypothesis
has remained uncriticised. I would therefore like to make some
comments on this proof. ...
From my presentation you will recognise that it is the consistency
proof that determines the effective scope of my proof theory and
in general constitutes its core. The method of W. Ackermann permits
a further extension still. For the foundations of ordinary analysis
his approach has been developed so far that only the task of carrying
out a purely mathematical proof of finiteness remains. Already
at this time I should like to assert what the final outcome will
be: mathematics is a presuppositionless science. To found it
I do not need God, as does Kronecker, or the assumption of a special
faculty of our understanding attuned to the principle of mathematical
induction, as does Poincaré, or the primal intuition of
Brouwer, or, finally, as do Russell and Whitehead, axioms of infinity,
reducibility, or completeness, which in fact are actual, contentual
assumptions that cannot be compensated for by consistency proofs.
I would like to note further that P. Bernays has again been my
faithful collaborator. He has not only constantly aided me by
giving advice but also contributed ideas of his own and new points
of view, so that I would like to call this our common work. We
intend to publish a detailed presentation of the theory soon.
Preface. When Marx undertook his critique of the capitalistic mode of production, this mode was in its infancy. Marx directed his efforts in such a way as to give them prognostic value. He went back to the basic conditions underlying capitalistic production and through his presentation showed what could be expected of capitalism in the future. The result was that one could expect it not only to exploit the proletariat with increasing intensity, but ultimately to create conditions which would make it possible to abolish capitalism itself.
The transformation of the superstructure, which takes place far more slowly than that of the substructure, has taken more than half a century to manifest in all areas of culture the change in the conditions of production. Only today can it be indicated what form this has taken. Certain prognostic requirements should be met by these statements. However, theses about the art of the proletariat after its assumption of power or about the art of a classless society would have less bearing on these demands than theses about the developmental tendencies of art under present conditions of production. Their dialectic is no less noticeable in the superstructure than in the economy. It would therefore be wrong to underestimate the value of such theses as a weapon. They brush aside a number of outmoded concepts, such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery – concepts whose uncontrolled (and at present almost uncontrollable) application would lead to a processing of data in the Fascist sense. The concepts which are introduced into the theory of art in what follows differ from the more familiar terms in that they are completely useless for the purposes of Fascism. They are, on the other hand, useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art.
1. In principle a work of art has always been reproducible. Man-made artifacts could always be imitated by men. Replicas were made by pupils in practice of their craft, by masters for diffusing their works, and, finally, by third parties in the pursuit of gain. Mechanical reproduction of a work of art, however, represents something new. Historically, it advanced intermittently and in leaps at long intervals, but with accelerated intensity. The Greeks knew only two procedures of technically reproducing works of art: founding and stamping. Bronzes, terra cottas, and coins were the only art works which they could produce in quantity. All others were unique and could not be mechanically reproduced. With the woodcut graphic art became mechanically reproducible for the first time, long before script became reproducible by print. The enormous changes which printing, the mechanical reproduction of writing, has brought about in literature are a familiar story. However, within the phenomenon which we are here examining from the perspective of world history, print is merely a special, though particularly important, case. During the Middle Ages engraving and etching were added to the woodcut; at the beginning of the nineteenth century lithography made its appearance. With lithography the technique of reproduction reached an essentially new stage. This much more direct process was distinguished by the tracing of the design on a stone rather than its incision on a block of wood or its etching on a copperplate and permitted graphic art for the first time to put its products on the market, not only in large numbers as hitherto, but also in daily changing forms. Lithography enabled graphic art to illustrate everyday life, and it began to keep pace with printing. But only a few decades after its invention, lithography was surpassed by photography. For the first time in the process of pictorial reproduction, photography freed the hand of the most important artistic functions which henceforth devolved only upon the eye looking into a lens. Since the eye perceives more swiftly than the hand can draw, the process of pictorial reproduction was accelerated so enormously that it could keep pace with speech. A film operator shooting a scene in the studio captures the images at the speed of an actor’s speech. Just as lithography virtually implied the illustrated newspaper, so did photography foreshadow the sound film. The technical reproduction of sound was tackled at the end of the last century. These convergent endeavors made predictable a situation which Paul Valery pointed up in this sentence:
“Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.”
Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes. For the study of this standard nothing is more revealing than the nature of the repercussions that these two different manifestations – the reproduction of works of art and the art of the film – have had on art in its traditional form.
2. Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original.
The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. Chemical analyses of the patina of a bronze can help to establish this, as does the proof that a given manuscript of the Middle Ages stems from an archive of the fifteenth century. The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical – and, of course, not only technical – reproducibility. Confronted with its manual reproduction, which was usually branded as a forgery, the original preserved all its authority; not so vis-à-vis technical reproduction. The reason is twofold. First, process reproduction is more independent of the original than manual reproduction. For example, in photography, process reproduction can bring out those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens, which is adjustable and chooses its angle at will. And photographic reproduction, with the aid of certain processes, such as enlargement or slow motion, can capture images which escape natural vision. Secondly, technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself. Above all, it enables the original to meet the beholder halfway, be it in the form of a photograph or a phonograph record. The cathedral leaves its locale to be received in the studio of a lover of art; the choral production, performed in an auditorium or in the open air, resounds in the drawing room.
The situations into which the product of mechanical reproduction can be brought may not touch the actual work of art, yet the quality of its presence is always depreciated. This holds not only for the art work but also, for instance, for a landscape which passes in review before the spectator in a movie. In the case of the art object, a most sensitive nucleus – namely, its authenticity – is interfered with whereas no natural object is vulnerable on that score. The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object.
One might subsume the eliminated element in the term “aura” and go on to say: that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art. This is a symptomatic process whose significance points beyond the realm of art. One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind. Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements. Their most powerful agent is the film. Its social significance, particularly in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage. This phenomenon is most palpable in the great historical films. It extends to ever new positions. In 1927 Abel Gance exclaimed enthusiastically:
“Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven will make films... all legends, all mythologies and all myths, all founders of religion, and the very religions... await their exposed resurrection, and the heroes crowd each other at the gate.”
Presumably without intending it, he issued an invitation to a far-reaching liquidation.
3. During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence. The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium in which it is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well. The fifth century, with its great shifts of population, saw the birth of the late Roman art industry and the Vienna Genesis, and there developed not only an art different from that of antiquity but also a new kind of perception. The scholars of the Viennese school, Riegl and Wickhoff, who resisted the weight of classical tradition under which these later art forms had been buried, were the first to draw conclusions from them concerning the organization of perception at the time. However far-reaching their insight, these scholars limited themselves to showing the significant, formal hallmark which characterized perception in late Roman times. They did not attempt – and, perhaps, saw no way – to show the social transformations expressed by these changes of perception. The conditions for an analogous insight are more favorable in the present. And if changes in the medium of contemporary perception can be comprehended as decay of the aura, it is possible to show its social causes.
The concept of aura which was proposed above with reference to historical objects may usefully be illustrated with reference to the aura of natural ones. We define the aura of the latter as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be. If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch. This image makes it easy to comprehend the social bases of the contemporary decay of the aura. It rests on two circumstances, both of which are related to the increasing significance of the masses in contemporary life. Namely, the desire of contemporary masses to bring things “closer” spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction. Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of its likeness, its reproduction. Unmistakably, reproduction as offered by picture magazines and newsreels differs from the image seen by the unarmed eye. Uniqueness and permanence are as closely linked in the latter as are transitoriness and reproducibility in the former. To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose “sense of the universal equality of things” has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction. Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing importance of statistics. The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.
4. The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition. This tradition itself is thoroughly alive and extremely changeable. An ancient statue of Venus, for example, stood in a different traditional context with the Greeks, who made it an object of veneration, than with the clerics of the Middle Ages, who viewed it as an ominous idol. Both of them, however, were equally confronted with its uniqueness, that is, its aura. Originally the contextual integration of art in tradition found its expression in the cult. We know that the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual – first the magical, then the religious kind. It is significant that the existence of the work of art with reference to its aura is never entirely separated from its ritual function. In other words, the unique value of the “authentic” work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value. This ritualistic basis, however remote, is still recognizable as secularized ritual even in the most profane forms of the cult of beauty. The secular cult of beauty, developed during the Renaissance and prevailing for three centuries, clearly showed that ritualistic basis in its decline and the first deep crisis which befell it. With the advent of the first truly revolutionary means of reproduction, photography, simultaneously with the rise of socialism, art sensed the approaching crisis which has become evident a century later. At the time, art reacted with the doctrine of l’art pour l’art, that is, with a theology of art. This gave rise to what might be called a negative theology in the form of the idea of “pure” art, which not only denied any social function of art but also any categorizing by subject matter. (In poetry, Mallarme was the first to take this position.)
An analysis of art in the age of mechanical reproduction must do justice to these relationships, for they lead us to an all-important insight: for the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. To an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility. From a photographic negative, for example, one can make any number of prints; to ask for the “authentic” print makes no sense. But the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice – politics.
5. Works of art are received and valued on different planes. Two polar types stand out; with one, the accent is on the cult value; with the other, on the exhibition value of the work. Artistic production begins with ceremonial objects destined to serve in a cult. One may assume that what mattered was their existence, not their being on view. The elk portrayed by the man of the Stone Age on the walls of his cave was an instrument of magic. He did expose it to his fellow men, but in the main it was meant for the spirits. Today the cult value would seem to demand that the work of art remain hidden. Certain statues of gods are accessible only to the priest in the cella; certain Madonnas remain covered nearly all year round; certain sculptures on medieval cathedrals are invisible to the spectator on ground level. With the emancipation of the various art practices from ritual go increasing opportunities for the exhibition of their products. It is easier to exhibit a portrait bust that can be sent here and there than to exhibit the statue of a divinity that has its fixed place in the interior of a temple. The same holds for the painting as against the mosaic or fresco that preceded it. And even though the public presentability of a mass originally may have been just as great as that of a symphony, the latter originated at the moment when its public presentability promised to surpass that of the mass.
With the different methods of technical reproduction of a work of art, its fitness for exhibition increased to such an extent that the quantitative shift between its two poles turned into a qualitative transformation of its nature. This is comparable to the situation of the work of art in prehistoric times when, by the absolute emphasis on its cult value, it was, first and foremost, an instrument of magic. Only later did it come to be recognized as a work of art. In the same way today, by the absolute emphasis on its exhibition value the work of art becomes a creation with entirely new functions, among which the one we are conscious of, the artistic function, later may be recognized as incidental. This much is certain: today photography and the film are the most serviceable exemplifications of this new function.
6. In photography, exhibition value begins to displace cult value all along the line. But cult value does not give way without resistance. It retires into an ultimate retrenchment: the human countenance. It is no accident that the portrait was the focal point of early photography. The cult of remembrance of loved ones, absent or dead, offers a last refuge for the cult value of the picture. For the last time the aura emanates from the early photographs in the fleeting expression of a human face. This is what constitutes their melancholy, incomparable beauty. But as man withdraws from the photographic image, the exhibition value for the first time shows its superiority to the ritual value. To have pinpointed this new stage constitutes the incomparable significance of Atget, who, around 1900, took photographs of deserted Paris streets. It has quite justly been said of him that he photographed them like scenes of crime. The scene of a crime, too, is deserted; it is photographed for the purpose of establishing evidence. With Atget, photographs become standard evidence for historical occurrences, and acquire a hidden political significance. They demand a specific kind of approach; free-floating contemplation is not appropriate to them. They stir the viewer; he feels challenged by them in a new way. At the same time picture magazines begin to put up signposts for him, right ones or wrong ones, no matter. For the first time, captions have become obligatory. And it is clear that they have an altogether different character than the title of a painting. The directives which the captions give to those looking at pictures in illustrated magazines soon become even more explicit and more imperative in the film where the meaning of each single picture appears to be prescribed by the sequence of all preceding ones.
7. The nineteenth-century dispute as to the artistic value of painting versus photography today seems devious and confused. This does not diminish its importance, however; if anything, it underlines it. The dispute was in fact the symptom of a historical transformation the universal impact of which was not realized by either of the rivals. When the age of mechanical reproduction separated art from its basis in cult, the semblance of its autonomy disappeared forever. The resulting change in the function of art transcended the perspective of the century; for a long time it even escaped that of the twentieth century, which experienced the development of the film. Earlier much futile thought had been devoted to the question of whether photography is an art. The primary question – whether the very invention of photography had not transformed the entire nature of art – was not raised. Soon the film theoreticians asked the same ill-considered question with regard to the film. But the difficulties which photography caused traditional aesthetics were mere child’s play as compared to those raised by the film. Whence the insensitive and forced character of early theories of the film. Abel Gance, for instance, compares the film with hieroglyphs: “Here, by a remarkable regression, we have come back to the level of expression of the Egyptians ... Pictorial language has not yet matured because our eyes have not yet adjusted to it. There is as yet insufficient respect for, insufficient cult of, what it expresses.” Or, in the words of Séverin-Mars: “What art has been granted a dream more poetical and more real at the same time! Approached in this fashion the film might represent an incomparable means of expression. Only the most high-minded persons, in the most perfect and mysterious moments of their lives, should be allowed to enter its ambience.” Alexandre Arnoux concludes his fantasy about the silent film with the question: “Do not all the bold descriptions we have given amount to the definition of prayer?” It is instructive to note how their desire to class the film among the “arts” forces these theoreticians to read ritual elements into it – with a striking lack of discretion. Yet when these speculations were published, films like L’Opinion publique and The Gold Rush had already appeared. This, however, did not keep Abel Gance from adducing hieroglyphs for purposes of comparison, nor Séverin-Mars from speaking of the film as one might speak of paintings by Fra Angelico. Characteristically, even today ultrareactionary authors give the film a similar contextual significance – if not an outright sacred one, then at least a supernatural one. Commenting on Max Reinhardt’s film version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Werfel states that undoubtedly it was the sterile copying of the exterior world with its streets, interiors, railroad stations, restaurants, motorcars, and beaches which until now had obstructed the elevation of the film to the realm of art. “The film has not yet realized its true meaning, its real possibilities ... these consist in its unique faculty to express by natural means and with incomparable persuasiveness all that is fairylike, marvelous, supernatural.”
8. The artistic performance of a stage actor is definitely presented to the public by the actor in person; that of the screen actor, however, is presented by a camera, with a twofold consequence. The camera that presents the performance of the film actor to the public need not respect the performance as an integral whole. Guided by the cameraman, the camera continually changes its position with respect to the performance. The sequence of positional views which the editor composes from the material supplied him constitutes the completed film. It comprises certain factors of movement which are in reality those of the camera, not to mention special camera angles, close-ups, etc. Hence, the performance of the actor is subjected to a series of optical tests. This is the first consequence of the fact that the actor’s performance is presented by means of a camera. Also, the film actor lacks the opportunity of the stage actor to adjust to the audience during his performance, since he does not present his performance to the audience in person. This permits the audience to take the position of a critic, without experiencing any personal contact with the actor. The audience’s identification with the actor is really an identification with the camera. Consequently the audience takes the position of the camera; its approach is that of testing. This is not the approach to which cult values may be exposed.
9. For the film, what matters primarily is that the actor represents himself to the public before the camera, rather than representing someone else. One of the first to sense the actor’s metamorphosis by this form of testing was Pirandello. Though his remarks on the subject in his novel Si Gira were limited to the negative aspects of the question and to the silent film only, this hardly impairs their validity. For in this respect, the sound film did not change anything essential. What matters is that the part is acted not for an audience but for a mechanical contrivance – in the case of the sound film, for two of them. “The film actor,” wrote Pirandello, “feels as if in exile – exiled not only from the stage but also from himself. With a vague sense of discomfort he feels inexplicable emptiness: his body loses its corporeality, it evaporates, it is deprived of reality, life, voice, and the noises caused by his moving about, in order to be changed into a mute image, flickering an instant on the screen, then vanishing into silence .... The projector will play with his shadow before the public, and he himself must be content to play before the camera.” This situation might also be characterized as follows: for the first time – and this is the effect of the film – man has to operate with his whole living person, yet forgoing its aura. For aura is tied to his presence; there can be no replica of it. The aura which, on the stage, emanates from Macbeth, cannot be separated for the spectators from that of the actor. However, the singularity of the shot in the studio is that the camera is substituted for the public. Consequently, the aura that envelops the actor vanishes, and with it the aura of the figure he portrays.
It is not surprising that it should be a dramatist such as Pirandello who, in characterizing the film, inadvertently touches on the very crisis in which we see the theater. Any thorough study proves that there is indeed no greater contrast than that of the stage play to a work of art that is completely subject to or, like the film, founded in, mechanical reproduction. Experts have long recognized that in the film “the greatest effects are almost always obtained by ‘acting’ as little as possible ... ” In 1932 Rudolf Arnheim saw “the latest trend ... in treating the actor as a stage prop chosen for its characteristics and... inserted at the proper place.” With this idea something else is closely connected. The stage actor identifies himself with the character of his role. The film actor very often is denied this opportunity. His creation is by no means all of a piece; it is composed of many separate performances. Besides certain fortuitous considerations, such as cost of studio, availability of fellow players, décor, etc., there are elementary necessities of equipment that split the actor’s work into a series of mountable episodes. In particular, lighting and its installation require the presentation of an event that, on the screen, unfolds as a rapid and unified scene, in a sequence of separate shootings which may take hours at the studio; not to mention more obvious montage. Thus a jump from the window can be shot in the studio as a jump from a scaffold, and the ensuing flight, if need be, can be shot weeks later when outdoor scenes are taken. Far more paradoxical cases can easily be construed. Let us assume that an actor is supposed to be startled by a knock at the door. If his reaction is not satisfactory, the director can resort to an expedient: when the actor happens to be at the studio again he has a shot fired behind him without his being forewarned of it. The frightened reaction can be shot now and be cut into the screen version. Nothing more strikingly shows that art has left the realm of the “beautiful semblance” which, so far, had been taken to be the only sphere where art could thrive.
10. The feeling of strangeness that overcomes the actor before the camera, as Pirandello describes it, is basically of the same kind as the estrangement felt before one’s own image in the mirror. But now the reflected image has become separable, transportable. And where is it transported? Before the public. Never for a moment does the screen actor cease to be conscious of this fact. While facing the camera he knows that ultimately he will face the public, the consumers who constitute the market. This market, where he offers not only his labor but also his whole self, his heart and soul, is beyond his reach. During the shooting he has as little contact with it as any article made in a factory. This may contribute to that oppression, that new anxiety which, according to Pirandello, grips the actor before the camera. The film responds to the shriveling of the aura with an artificial build-up of the “personality” outside the studio. The cult of the movie star, fostered by the money of the film industry, preserves not the unique aura of the person but the “spell of the personality,” the phony spell of a commodity. So long as the movie-makers’ capital sets the fashion, as a rule no other revolutionary merit can be accredited to today’s film than the promotion of a revolutionary criticism of traditional concepts of art. We do not deny that in some cases today’s films can also promote revolutionary criticism of social conditions, even of the distribution of property. However, our present study is no more specifically concerned with this than is the film production of Western Europe.
It is inherent in the technique of the film as well as that of sports that everybody who witnesses its accomplishments is somewhat of an expert. This is obvious to anyone listening to a group of newspaper boys leaning on their bicycles and discussing the outcome of a bicycle race. It is not for nothing that newspaper publishers arrange races for their delivery boys. These arouse great interest among the participants, for the victor has an opportunity to rise from delivery boy to professional racer. Similarly, the newsreel offers everyone the opportunity to rise from passer-by to movie extra. In this way any man might even find himself part of a work of art, as witness Vertov’s Three Songs About Lenin or Ivens’ Borinage. Any man today can lay claim to being filmed. This claim can best be elucidated by a comparative look at the historical situation of contemporary literature.
For centuries a small number of writers were confronted by many thousands of readers. This changed toward the end of the last century. With the increasing extension of the press, which kept placing new political, religious, scientific, professional, and local organs before the readers, an increasing number of readers became writers – at first, occasional ones. It began with the daily press opening to its readers space for “letters to the editor.” And today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere or other comments on his work, grievances, documentary reports, or that sort of thing. Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional; it may vary from case to case. At any moment the reader is ready to turn into a writer. As expert, which he had to become willy-nilly in an extremely specialized work process, even if only in some minor respect, the reader gains access to authorship. In the Soviet Union work itself is given a voice. To present it verbally is part of a man’s ability to perform the work. Literary license is now founded on polytechnic rather than specialized training and thus becomes common property.
All this can easily be applied to the film, where transitions that in literature took centuries have come about in a decade. In cinematic practice, particularly in Russia, this change-over has partially become established reality. Some of the players whom we meet in Russian films are not actors in our sense but people who portray themselves and primarily in their own work process. In Western Europe the capitalistic exploitation of the film denies consideration to modern man’s legitimate claim to being reproduced. Under these circumstances the film industry is trying hard to spur the interest of the masses through illusion-promoting spectacles and dubious speculations.
11. The shooting of a film, especially of a sound film, affords a spectacle unimaginable anywhere at any time before this. It presents a process in which it is impossible to assign to a spectator a viewpoint which would exclude from the actual scene such extraneous accessories as camera equipment, lighting machinery, staff assistants, etc. – unless his eye were on a line parallel with the lens. This circumstance, more than any other, renders superficial and insignificant any possible similarity between a scene in the studio and one on the stage. In the theater one is well aware of the place from which the play cannot immediately be detected as illusionary. There is no such place for the movie scene that is being shot. Its illusionary nature is that of the second degree, the result of cutting. That is to say, in the studio the mechanical equipment has penetrated so deeply into reality that its pure aspect freed from the foreign substance of equipment is the result of a special procedure, namely, the shooting by the specially adjusted camera and the mounting of the shot together with other similar ones. The equipment-free aspect of reality here has become the height of artifice; the sight of immediate reality has become an orchid in the land of technology.
Even more revealing is the comparison of these circumstances, which differ so much from those of the theater, with the situation in painting. Here the question is: How does the cameraman compare with the painter? To answer this we take recourse to an analogy with a surgical operation. The surgeon represents the polar opposite of the magician. The magician heals a sick person by the laying on of hands; the surgeon cuts into the patient’s body. The magician maintains the natural distance between the patient and himself; though he reduces it very slightly by the laying on of hands, he greatly increases it by virtue of his authority. The surgeon does exactly the reverse; he greatly diminishes the distance between himself and the patient by penetrating into the patient’s body, and increases it but little by the caution with which his hand moves among the organs. In short, in contrast to the magician - who is still hidden in the medical practitioner – the surgeon at the decisive moment abstains from facing the patient man to man; rather, it is through the operation that he penetrates into him.
Magician and surgeon compare to painter and cameraman. The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web. There is a tremendous difference between the pictures they obtain. That of the painter is a total one, that of the cameraman consists of multiple fragments which are assembled under a new law. Thus, for contemporary man the representation of reality by the film is incomparably more significant than that of the painter, since it offers, precisely because of the thoroughgoing permeation of reality with mechanical equipment, an aspect of reality which is free of all equipment. And that is what one is entitled to ask from a work of art.
12. Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art. The reactionary attitude toward a Picasso painting changes into the progressive reaction toward a Chaplin movie. The progressive reaction is characterized by the direct, intimate fusion of visual and emotional enjoyment with the orientation of the expert. Such fusion is of great social significance. The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion. With regard to the screen, the critical and the receptive attitudes of the public coincide. The decisive reason for this is that individual reactions are predetermined by the mass audience response they are about to produce, and this is nowhere more pronounced than in the film. The moment these responses become manifest they control each other. Again, the comparison with painting is fruitful. A painting has always had an excellent chance to be viewed by one person or by a few. The simultaneous contemplation of paintings by a large public, such as developed in the nineteenth century, is an early symptom of the crisis of painting, a crisis which was by no means occasioned exclusively by photography but rather in a relatively independent manner by the appeal of art works to the masses.
Painting simply is in no position to present an object for simultaneous collective experience, as it was possible for architecture at all times, for the epic poem in the past, and for the movie today. Although this circumstance in itself should not lead one to conclusions about the social role of painting, it does constitute a serious threat as soon as painting, under special conditions and, as it were, against its nature, is confronted directly by the masses. In the churches and monasteries of the Middle Ages and at the princely courts up to the end of the eighteenth century, a collective reception of paintings did not occur simultaneously, but by graduated and hierarchized mediation. The change that has come about is an expression of the particular conflict in which painting was implicated by the mechanical reproducibility of paintings. Although paintings began to be publicly exhibited in galleries and salons, there was no way for the masses to organize and control themselves in their reception. Thus the same public which responds in a progressive manner toward a grotesque film is bound to respond in a reactionary manner to surrealism.
13. The characteristics of the film lie not only in the manner in which man presents himself to mechanical equipment but also in the manner in which, by means of this apparatus, man can represent his environment. A glance at occupational psychology illustrates the testing capacity of the equipment. Psychoanalysis illustrates it in a different perspective. The film has enriched our field of perception with methods which can be illustrated by those of Freudian theory. Fifty years ago, a slip of the tongue passed more or less unnoticed. Only exceptionally may such a slip have revealed dimensions of depth in a conversation which had seemed to be taking its course on the surface. Since the Psychopathology of Everyday Life things have changed. This book isolated and made analyzable things which had heretofore floated along unnoticed in the broad stream of perception. For the entire spectrum of optical, and now also acoustical, perception the film has brought about a similar deepening of apperception. It is only an obverse of this fact that behavior items shown in a movie can be analyzed much more precisely and from more points of view than those presented on paintings or on the stage. As compared with painting, filmed behavior lends itself more readily to analysis because of its incomparably more precise statements of the situation. In comparison with the stage scene, the filmed behavior item lends itself more readily to analysis because it can be isolated more easily. This circumstance derives its chief importance from its tendency to promote the mutual penetration of art and science. Actually, of a screened behavior item which is neatly brought out in a certain situation, like a muscle of a body, it is difficult to say which is more fascinating, its artistic value or its value for science. To demonstrate the identity of the artistic and scientific uses of photography which heretofore usually were separated will be one of the revolutionary functions of the film.
By close-ups of the things around us, by focusing on hidden details of familiar objects, by exploring common place milieus under the ingenious guidance of the camera, the film, on the one hand, extends our comprehension of the necessities which rule our lives; on the other hand, it manages to assure us of an immense and unexpected field of action. Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have us locked up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison-world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of a second, so that now, in the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go traveling. With the close-up, space expands; with slow motion, movement is extended. The enlargement of a snapshot does not simply render more precise what in any case was visible, though unclear: it reveals entirely new structural formations of the subject. So, too, slow motion not only presents familiar qualities of movement but reveals in them entirely unknown ones “which, far from looking like retarded rapid movements, give the effect of singularly gliding, floating, supernatural motions.” Evidently a different nature opens itself to the camera than opens to the naked eye – if only because an unconsciously penetrated space is substituted for a space consciously explored by man. Even if one has a general knowledge of the way people walk, one knows nothing of a person’s posture during the fractional second of a stride. The act of reaching for a lighter or a spoon is familiar routine, yet we hardly know what really goes on between hand and metal, not to mention how this fluctuates with our moods. Here the camera intervenes with the resources of its lowerings and liftings, its interruptions and isolations, it extensions and accelerations, its enlargements and reductions. The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.
14. One of the foremost tasks of art has always been the creation of a demand which could be fully satisfied only later. The history of every art form shows critical epochs in which a certain art form aspires to effects which could be fully obtained only with a changed technical standard, that is to say, in a new art form. The extravagances and crudities of art which thus appear, particularly in the so-called decadent epochs, actually arise from the nucleus of its richest historical energies. In recent years, such barbarisms were abundant in Dadaism. It is only now that its impulse becomes discernible: Dadaism attempted to create by pictorial – and literary – means the effects which the public today seeks in the film.
Every fundamentally new, pioneering creation of demands will carry beyond its goal. Dadaism did so to the extent that it sacrificed the market values which are so characteristic of the film in favor of higher ambitions – though of course it was not conscious of such intentions as here described. The Dadaists attached much less importance to the sales value of their work than to its usefulness for contemplative immersion. The studied degradation of their material was not the least of their means to achieve this uselessness. Their poems are “word salad” containing obscenities and every imaginable waste product of language. The same is true of their paintings, on which they mounted buttons and tickets. What they intended and achieved was a relentless destruction of the aura of their creations, which they branded as reproductions with the very means of production. Before a painting of Arp’s or a poem by August Stramm it is impossible to take time for contemplation and evaluation as one would before a canvas of Derain’s or a poem by Rilke. In the decline of middle-class society, contemplation became a school for asocial behavior; it was countered by distraction as a variant of social conduct. Dadaistic activities actually assured a rather vehement distraction by making works of art the center of scandal. One requirement was foremost: to outrage the public.
From an alluring appearance or persuasive structure of sound the work of art of the Dadaists became an instrument of ballistics. It hit the spectator like a bullet, it happened to him, thus acquiring a tactile quality. It promoted a demand for the film, the distracting element of which is also primarily tactile, being based on changes of place and focus which periodically assail the spectator. Let us compare the screen on which a film unfolds with the canvas of a painting. The painting invites the spectator to contemplation; before it the spectator can abandon himself to his associations. Before the movie frame he cannot do so. No sooner has his eye grasped a scene than it is already changed. It cannot be arrested. Duhamel, who detests the film and knows nothing of its significance, though something of its structure, notes this circumstance as follows: “I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images.” The spectator’s process of association in view of these images is indeed interrupted by their constant, sudden change. This constitutes the shock effect of the film, which, like all shocks, should be cushioned by heightened presence of mind. By means of its technical structure, the film has taken the physical shock effect out of the wrappers in which Dadaism had, as it were, kept it inside the moral shock effect.
15. The mass is a matrix from which all traditional behavior toward works of art issues today in a new form. Quantity has been transmuted into quality. The greatly increased mass of participants has produced a change in the mode of participation. The fact that the new mode of participation first appeared in a disreputable form must not confuse the spectator. Yet some people have launched spirited attacks against precisely this superficial aspect. Among these, Duhamel has expressed himself in the most radical manner. What he objects to most is the kind of participation which the movie elicits from the masses. Duhamel calls the movie “a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a ‘star’ in Los Angeles.” Clearly, this is at bottom the same ancient lament that the masses seek distraction whereas art demands concentration from the spectator. That is a commonplace.
The question remains whether it provides a platform for the analysis of the film. A closer look is needed here. Distraction and concentration form polar opposites which may be stated as follows: A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. He enters into this work of art the way legend tells of the Chinese painter when he viewed his finished painting. In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art. This is most obvious with regard to buildings. Architecture has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction. The laws of its reception are most instructive.
Buildings have been man’s companions since primeval times. Many art forms have developed and perished. Tragedy begins with the Greeks, is extinguished with them, and after centuries its “rules” only are revived. The epic poem, which had its origin in the youth of nations, expires in Europe at the end of the Renaissance. Panel painting is a creation of the Middle Ages, and nothing guarantees its uninterrupted existence. But the human need for shelter is lasting. Architecture has never been idle. Its history is more ancient than that of any other art, and its claim to being a living force has significance in every attempt to comprehend the relationship of the masses to art. Buildings are appropriated in a twofold manner: by use and by perception – or rather, by touch and sight. Such appropriation cannot be understood in terms of the attentive concentration of a tourist before a famous building. On the tactile side there is no counterpart to contemplation on the optical side. Tactile appropriation is accomplished not so much by attention as by habit. As regards architecture, habit determines to a large extent even optical reception. The latter, too, occurs much less through rapt attention than by noticing the object in incidental fashion. This mode of appropriation, developed with reference to architecture, in certain circumstances acquires canonical value. For the tasks which face the human apparatus of perception at the turning points of history cannot be solved by optical means, that is, by contemplation, alone. They are mastered gradually by habit, under the guidance of tactile appropriation.
The distracted person, too, can form habits. More, the ability to master certain tasks in a state of distraction proves that their solution has become a matter of habit. Distraction as provided by art presents a covert control of the extent to which new tasks have become soluble by apperception. Since, moreover, individuals are tempted to avoid such tasks, art will tackle the most difficult and most important ones where it is able to mobilize the masses. Today it does so in the film. Reception in a state of distraction, which is increasing noticeably in all fields of art and is symptomatic of profound changes in apperception, finds in the film its true means of exercise. The film with its shock effect meets this mode of reception halfway. The film makes the cult value recede into the background not only by putting the public in the position of the critic, but also by the fact that at the movies this position requires no attention. The public is an examiner, but an absent-minded one.
Epilogue. The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.
All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war:
“For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic ... Accordingly we state:... War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others ... Poets and artists of Futurism! ... remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art ... may be illumined by them!”
This manifesto has the virtue of clarity. Its formulations deserve to be accepted by dialecticians. To the latter, the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.
“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.
...e quindi? (e poi: io, che vedo la tv?!? strano...) quindi non mi metto certo a discutere di queste cose.
però è un motivo in più per ragionare su chi compare in tv (lo zoo?) e su chi scrive / scrittura personaggi a favore del completo disastro della piccola, povera italia.
l'opinione di una stimata professionista del mondo dello spettacolo, Amica D'Omitillo: "... dovrebbero chiudere il programma. altrove il provvedimento è stato questo, ma stavolta ha imprecato addirittura una presentatrice, una parte fondamentale dell'organizzazione. in quel momento facevano tutti i vaghi, il pubblico gelato, morgan allibito imbastiva una frase assurda, e la maionchi stentava a concludere il discorso, considerata la gaffe. inquadravano fisso facchinetti, anche lui visibilmente nervoso, evitando accuratamente qualsiasi manifestazione accadesse intorno. hanno insabbiato tutto! su internet non c'è traccia nè del video, nè dell'intera puntata nelle reti peer to peer. chiunque trovasse il fimato incriminato è pregato di contattarmi".
l'opinione di numerose vecchiette tv-dipendenti: "non è possibile recitare il santo rosario tre volte al dì e poi vanificare tutto per una zitella sboccata, porca m*** !".
infine, l'opinione, quella suprema: "ragazzi, non guardate la tv: è satanica. venite invece da me, in pace, abbracciatemi: vi ho già perdonato tutti".
aggiornamento: mi ha contattato la direzione rai esortandomi a rimuovere l'articolo. la risposta è no.
[piko!] ti ringrazia per esser arrivato fin quaggiù, la strada era lunga.
se non sai cosa fare, puoi visitare l'archivio o la galleria fotografica relativa ad hirudo:holter.
oppure tornartene alla pagina iniziale del sito per vedere cosa bolle in pentola.
your attention makes [piko!] happy: there was a long way from the top of the page!
if you don't know what to do, try our archives or the photogallery from hirudo:holter.
or you can click back to the global home page to see what's going on now on amolenuvolette.it.
steal all of this, steal my code, steal my graphics. use it to feel better.
this is copyrighted so you can really steal it.
eventually you will find some crap-pieces of code like "don't right-click" in my escaped! maze.
this was only because if you read source code there's no play in gettin out of the maze, cheating about the right place to click.
so, uh: i'm a media pirate. i am a native in the media landscape.
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_muy felìz :.
io contro tutti
marco infussi here, ready to serve you.
this is my personal notepad: i paste here all the stuff i am thinking about and working on, plus some weirdo and doodles.
if you are looking for serious work and official stuff, this is the wrong place.
amolenuvolette.it is such a disordered waste-bin, with something like 25+gbytes of stuff to browse.
here is a map to understand where you are...
trust me: it will be useful!
La pubblicità ha rotto le scatole, quindi non è più consentita.
hirudo:holter is technically based on some concepts:
a) a purposedly verbose interface
b) little isometric designs and typographical cameos
c) a fictitious character, website's engine [piko!], insulting the reader
but, what does hirudo
mean? how about holter
?! and what's the hidden
more about hirudo:holter...
InValid XHTML 1.0 / CSS
[piko!] scan rileva 357 utenti on line, tra i quali 217 + 1 cercano inutilmente di nascondersi nelle ultime file. forza, venite al primo banco per l'esame.
23/03/2018 @ 04:00:46
che velocità... [piko!] engine ha prontamente eseguito questo script in soli 122 ms
this section contains all the things that made my life what it is.
songs, books, films, artworks, fonts i love, written as lists.
questa funzione è talmente obsoleta che non ho più voglia di aggiustarla.
questa versione di hirudo:holter è in effetti chiusa al 31 dicembre 2011.
vale sempre la pena di fare una domanda. ma non sempre vale la pena di dare una risposta.