Monday, December 29, 2003

Revolution of Everyday Life
adapted from an article by Laura Martz

The consumer must be conditioned from birth to hand over the "excess" wage in exchange for the excesses of capitalist production (gadgets). In the early twentieth century the new requirement of capitalism became the total cultural control of workers outside the workplace (when their role changed to that of consumers), through the new advertising industry.

Advertising is perhaps the most obvious mode of spectacular ideology. The spectacle holds workers in thrall, teaching them in what is called their "free" time that their desires can be satisfied through consumption. The upkeep of the capitalist economic system thus finally encroaches on all our waking hours.

The spectacle steals every experience and sells it back to us, but only symbolically, so that we are never satisfied: via this mechanism we support the machine of endless consumption over and over.

Play is thought of as the opposite of "work." Yet under the existing order play is officially allowed only to children. It is made elitist through the professionalization of select people as "athletes," "artists" or "entertainers." These physical, creative activities are reserved for "professionals," who must sell the product of their "play" as consumer goods. Play in the "working world" is diverted, channeled off as "art," contained as decadent behavior in the mainstream of life. Children are punished in school for playing except at scheduled break time, as training for the radical split between what one is ordered to do and what one might like to do.

Furthermore, to play professionally today and live off it, one must be able to command a mass audience and license the commodity to a gang of managers and owners, each of whom creams off a percentage of profit from the "work" (for that is what this "play" has been converted into). "Performance" is now always subject to endless monitoring and control by the professional judges and censors.

Time (because of work, consumption and consumer training), playfulness (because of an obsolete work ethic), and desires divorced from commodities have been lost under the present system.

We call for revolution in the realm of everyday life, to wrest back all that which lay suppressed, but not dead, under the weight of the spectacle/commodity.

We require the abandonment of all work, the better to give oneself over to play--for, as surrealist Andre Breton said, "only the idle can be at the complete disposal of chance."

No comments: