[KB] From "Manifesto Against Labour" (Re "Middle Ages")

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sun Nov 16 16:30:57 EST 2014


Only after a short time revenue became insufficient. The absolutist
bureaucrats and finance capital administrators began to forcibly and
directly organise people as the material of a "social machinery" for the
transformation of labour into money. The traditional way of life and
existence of the population was vandalised as this population was earmarked
to be the human material for the valorisation machine put on steam. Peasants
and yeomen were driven from their fields by force of arms to clear space for
sheep farming, which produced the raw material for the wool manufactories.
Traditional rights like free hunting, fishing, and wood gathering in the
forests were abolished. When the impoverished masses then marched through
the land begging and stealing, they were locked up in workhouses and
manufactories and abused with labour torture machines to beat the slave
consciousness of a submissive serf into them. The floating rumour that
people gave up their traditional life of their own accord to join the armies
of labour on account of the beguiling prospects of labour society is a
downright lie.

The gradual transformation of their subjects into material for the
money-generating labour idol was not enough to satisfy the absolutist
monster states. They extended their claim to other continents. Europe's
inner colonisation was accompanied by outer colonisation, first in the
Americas, then in parts of Africa. Here the whip masters of labour finally
cast aside all scruples. In an unprecedented crusade of looting, destruction
and genocide, they assaulted the newly "discovered" worlds - the victims
overseas were not even considered to be human beings. However, the
cannibalistic European powers of the dawning labour society defined the
subjugated foreign cultures as "savages" and cannibals.

This provided the justification to exterminate or enslave millions of them.
Slavery in the colonial plantations and raw materials "industry" - to an
extent exceeding ancient slaveholding by far, was one of the founding crimes
of the commodity-producing system. Here "extermination by means of labour"
was realised on a large scale for the first time. This was the second
foundation crime of the labour society. The white man, already branded by
the ravages of self-discipline, could compensate for his repressed
self-hatred and inferiority complex by taking it out on the "savages". Like
"the woman", indigenous people were deemed to be primitive halflings ranking
in between animals and humans. It was Immanuel Kant's keen conjecture that
baboons could talk if they only wanted and didn't speak because they feared
being dragged off to labour.

Such grotesque reasoning casts a revealing light on the Enlightenment. The
repressive labour ethos of the modern age, which in its original Protestant
version relied on God's grace and since the Enlightenment on "Natural Law",
was disguised as a "civilising mission". Civilisation in this sense means
the voluntary submission to labour; and labour is male, white and "Western".
The opposite, the non-human, amorphous, and uncivilised nature, is female,
coloured and "exotic", and thus to be kept in bondage. In a word, the
"universality" of the labour society is perfectly racist by its origin. The
universal abstraction of labour can always only define itself by demarcating
itself from everything that can't be squared with its own categories.

The modern bourgeoisie, who ultimately inherited absolutism, is not a
descendant of the peaceful merchants who once travelled the old trading
routes. Rather it was the bunch of Condottieri, early modern mercenary
gangs, poorhouse overseers, penitentiary wards, the whole lot of farmers
general, slave drivers and other cut-throats of this sort, who prepared the
social hotbed for modern "entrepeneurship". The bourgeois revolutions of the
18th and 19th century had nothing to do with social emancipation. They only
restructured the balance of power within the arising coercive system,
separated the institutions of the labour society from the antiquated
dynastic interests and pressed ahead with reification and depersonalization.
It was the glorious French revolution that histrionically proclaimed
compulsory labour, enacted a law on the "elimination of begging" and
arranged for new labour penitentiaries without delay.

This was the exact opposite of what was struggled for by rebellious social
movements of a different character flaring up on the fringes of the
bourgeois revolutions. Completely autonomous forms of resistance and
disobedience existed long before, but the official historiography of the
modern labour society cannot make sense of it. The producers of the old
agrarian societies, who never put up with feudal rule completely, were
simply not willing to come to terms with the prospect of forming the working
class of a system extrinsic to their life. An uninterrupted chain of events,
from the peasants' revolts of the 15th and 16th century, the Luddite
uprisings in Britain, later on denounced as the revolt of backwards fools,
to the Silesian weavers' rebellion in 1844, gives evidence for the
embittered resistance against labour. Over the last centuries, the
enforcement of the labour society and the sometimes open and sometimes
latent civil war were one and the same.
The old agrarian societies were anything but heaven on earth. However, the
majority experienced the enormous constraints of the dawning labour society
as a change to the worse and a "time of despair". Despite of the narrowness
of their existence, people actually had something to lose. What appears to
be the darkness and plague of the misrepresented Middle Ages to the
erroneous awareness of the modern times is in reality the horror of the
history of modern age. The working hours of a modern white-collar or factory
"employee" are longer than the annual or daily time spent on social
reproduction by any pre-capitalist or non-capitalist civilisation inside or
outside Europe. Such traditional production was not devoted to efficiency,
but was characterised by a culture of leisure and relative "slowness". Apart
from natural disasters, those societies were able to provide for the basic
material needs of their members, in fact even better than it has been the
case for long periods of modern history or is the case in the horror slums
of the present world crisis. Furthermore, domination couldn't get that deep
under the skin as in our thoroughly bureaucratised labour society.

This is why resistance against labour could only be smashed by military
force. Even now, the ideologists of the labour society resort to cant to
cover up that the civilisation of the pre-modern producers did not
peacefully "evolve" into a capitalist society, but was drowned in its own
blood. The mellow labour democrats of today preferably shift the blame for
all these atrocities onto the so-called "pre-democratic conditions" of a
past they have nothing to do with. They do not want to see that the
terrorist history of the modern age is quite revealing as to nature of the
contemporary labour society. The bureaucratic labour administration and
state-run registration-mania and control freakery in industrial democracies
has never been able to deny its absolutist and colonial origins. By means of
ongoing reification to create an impersonal systemic context, the repressive
human resource management, carried out in the name of the labour idol, has
even intensified and meanwhile pervades all spheres of life. Due to today's
agony of labour, the iron bureaucratic grip can be felt as it was felt in
the early days of the labour society. Labour administration turns out to be
a coercive system that has always organised social apartheid and seeks in
vain to banish the crisis by means of democratic state slavery. At the same
time, the evil colonial spirit returns to the countries at the periphery of
capitalist "wealth", "national economies" that are already ruined by the
dozen. This time, the International Monetary Fund assumes the position of an
"official receiver" to bleed white the leftovers. After the decease of its
idol, the labour society, still hoping for deliverance, falls back on the
methods of its founding crimes, even though it is already beyond salvation.

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