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The revolution of everyday life

The revolution of everyday life

By Alfredo Apilánez

In recent months, several squatted social centers (Expropriated Banks1) have emerged in Barcelona at the headquarters of old bank branches, abandoned by hundreds, like wrecks at the bottom of the ocean, by the extinct savings banks. Once the speculative storm had passed and the days of wine and roses of balls, junk and preferential mortgages to greater glory and portfolio of builders, councilors, lawyers and other treasury plunderers, they were scrapped at the expense of the long-suffering taxpayer for their subsequent delivery, in silver tray and for a small fee, to the highest bidder.

The insertion of such "liberated" places into the fabric of the neighborhoods leads to the opening of cracks in the commercialized social habits imposed by the capitalist structures of everyday life. The community practices that are developed in them (workshops, exchange markets and free stores of basic products, cultural activities and transfer of the premises to multiple associations and popular groups) offer glimpses of the potential for the development of social life, without the bridles and straitjackets imposed by the prevailing rules of the game. Despite its isolation, the mere fact of creating autonomous environments where possibilities are opened to develop non-profit activities that involve cooperation, mutual support and stimulation of associative and neighborhood tissues, is, due to its creative radicalism, a knock that appeals, practically putting them in question, to the foundations of the surrounding commodity-city.

However, and that is where its tremendous danger for the State and Capital really resides, the power of such socializing attempts to create a new praxis that transforms everyday doing and living goes far beyond its value of resistance and activism against the environment of rampant exploitation and dehumanization: they represent a direct challenge to the heart of the anthropological framework of the commodity-producing society.

The essential feature of human life in capitalist civilization (paradigmatic oxymoron where they exist) resides in the dialectical, conflictive and changing interaction between the multiple and irreconcilable divisions that their practical activity suffers: producer-consumer, work time-labor time. leisure, daily life-festivity, creativity-routine, etc. All of them make up the core of the continuous tension between the liberating tendencies of the human condition and its existence according to the restrictive guidelines of bourgeois life. It would be a permanent struggle between those aspects, let us say so, anthropological and, therefore, universal and common to the species and those that exclusively concern the commercial packaging of existence. Everyday life, in the words of Henri Lefebvre, becomes essentially contradictory: "And it is in everyday life that the sum total of the relationships that make the human — and each human being — a whole takes shape and is configured. express and carry out those relationships that bring the totality of reality into play, although in a certain way that is always conflictive and incomplete: friendship, camaraderie, love, the need to communicate, play, etc. "2 The mercantile society does not deny these relationships rather, he stuffs them into his particular cream corset, adulterating their generic essence.


Late capitalism has developed increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for the domestication and channeling of the referred psychosocial conflicts, thus striving to avoid at all costs that the tears caused by the vain illusion of individual freedom that the consumer society stimulates accentuate the subversive or maladaptive behaviors that If they spread, they would result in decreases in social productivity. In this way, the increasing strengthening and refinement of the alienation armor tries to prevent the assumption (minimally conscious and, therefore, potentially subversive) by the individual of his condition of marionette, moved by the almost invisible threads of the machinery of creation of empty needs in the service of the aggrandizement of capital, even in apparently liberating and pleasant activities. The anthropological fracture between the private, family, friendly or loving facets, in which community values ​​of help and care usually prevail, and the ruthless economic-productive sphere of competitive struggle for subsistence through the sale of labor power is thus delicately hidden. . To try to channel, without solving it, this implicit tear in the daily praxis they mobilize (in addition to the classic, more coercive and direct methods, based on school indoctrination, the family, religion, the law and other institutions of social control) a plethora of soothing ludic-escapists who strive to direct and stimulate the release of the most primary hedonistic drives, alleviating, in a fictitious but effective way, the diffuse suffering that subjection to the commercial network causes. As Juan José Sebreli lucidly explains: "The false freedom spreads to the same extent that real oppression spreads. The doses of leisure and pleasure granted serve to repress greater leisure and pleasure that would endanger society based on in forced labor "3

These control mechanisms based on the stimulation of multiple "repressive desublimations", in Marcuse's classic terms, represent the most powerful means of domestication and prevention of dissent (thus avoiding, as far as possible, the action of repressive forces expeditious uniforms) in mature capitalist society. The controlled desublimation and the corseted pleasures it provides weaken the instinct of rebellion against established society. The false appearances of personal freedom and autonomy represented by compulsive leisure and pleasure, bestowed and packaged by the dissipation industry, consume the complete subjection of the urbanite's "free" time to greed and the bottom line of the industries of the world. entertainment. The unbridled frenzy of virtual social relationships through the profusion of gadgets and facebooks of gross egotistical display becomes a powerful catalyst of the most narcissistic human drives, channeling them towards social docility and the maximization of profits. These "libidinal sinks" represented by communicational devices, false sexual disinhibition, junk television, soccer passions, tourist packages and paid vacations are a way, deeper and more perfect if possible than the old ascetic mentality of repression and Victorian puritanism, of short-circuiting the possibility of rebellion and consummating the iron grip of potential dissent.

The achievement of functional subjection and docility to "faceless" power is no longer based mainly on the direct repression of primary human drives (the modest necklines of classic Hollywood comedies or the rough and prudish "landismo" are our uninhibited eyes of an antediluvian pacatería) but in the simulacrum of their satisfaction.Pleasure, well-being and physical health, rejected and suppressed in the multiple servitudes of the fiercely competitive daily life, are offered as substitute enjoyment in iPhones, electronic and psychotropic music raves, low-cost vacations and other libidinous substitutes for leisure time and the "use" of free time. Against the massive depression of the pharmacological society, the fatigue of alienated work, the drama of unemployment and ugliness of modern cities the new light fascism of totalitarian civilization, as Pasolini said, offers soothing pseudo-hedonists that They upplant the real enjoyment of full life by a neurotic simulacrum.

If the foregoing digression were to be minimally accurate, it should clearly illustrate the idea that the danger to the dominant network of cracks in community life posed by squatted, demolished and expeditiously evicted social centers with bulldozers and riot control, goes far beyond the transgressions of the sacred right of property or the possible untimely schedules and dissolute customs of its inhabitants. Rather, it would be about the imperative need for repression that the bourgeois totalitarian order has of any hint of de-commodification that shows the real possibility of the practice, truly pleasant, of a new material culture of life that is not split or alienated. That is the deep end of any action that transforms human relations in a dehumanized society: a different life, that is, revolutionary. For this reason, these offshoots of the creation of new daily life have to be excised lightning-fast, at the root, with all the “bodies and forces” at the disposal of the repressive power ready to join the task. Failure to do so, that substrate of communitarianism could show through deeds the imposture and uselessness of the pseudo-liberating substitutes made available to the citizen for the harmless and alienated channeling of his manipulated impulses of vital plenitude. And these outbreaks of new “purified” sociability would show that the permanence of the aforementioned divisions of human life and the need for de-sublimating mechanisms of false vehicles of joy to maintain social control are based exclusively on the preservation of socioeconomic exploitation. and in the false compensation of the suffering and aggressions of the heartless daily life.

Therefore, this outrageous violence of the entire legal-repressive state apparatus, of the de facto powers and of the "good" citizens against the detested squatters would be the perfect counter-proof of the tremendous importance that these community wedges have in the transformation of the fabric social, reflected in the deadly panic that the practice of self-management and de-commodification produces in the guardians of order and gatekeepers of capital. This fear, incidentally, is infinitely greater than the one that the recent political-electoral maneuvers of regenerationist lineage, with all its advertising effect and great media coverage, may provoke in the hegemonic bloc (despite appearances).

Because what postmodern fascism fears most of the civilization of capital is the possibility (however remote it may be) of the conversion of the daily life of a significant amount of the population into the fertile humus from which a new de-commodified social praxis could sprout. and fraternal. In Lefebvre's beautiful words: "daily life is compared to fertile soil. A landscape without trees or magnificent forests can be depressing for the walker; but flowers and trees must not make us forget the land that sustains ".

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