The Coming Insurrection

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The Coming Insurrection
ComingInsurrection.jpg
The cover of the Semiotext(e) edition.
Author The Invisible Committee
Original title L’insurrection Qui Vient
Country France
Language English, translated from French
Subject Politics
Genre Essay
Publisher Semiotext(e)
Publication date
2008
Published in English
2009
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 136
ISBN 978-1-58435-080-4
OCLC 423751089

The Coming Insurrection is a French political tract that hypothesizes the "imminent collapse of capitalist culture".[1] It was written by The Invisible Committee, an anonymous group of contributors and first published in 2007 by French company La Fabrique.

Summary[edit]

The book is divided into two parts. The first attempts a complete diagnosis of the totality of modern capitalist civilization, moving through what the Invisible Committee identify as the "seven circles" of alienation: "self, social relations, work, the economy, urbanity, the environment, and to close civilization".[2] The latter part of the book begins to offer a prescription for revolutionary struggle based on the formation of communes, or affinity group-style units, in an underground network that will build its forces outside of mainstream politics, and attack in moments of crisis – political, social, environmental – to push towards anti-capitalist revolution. The insurrection envisioned by the Invisible Committee will revolve around "the local appropriation of power by the people, of the physical blocking of the economy and of the annihilation of police forces".[2]

The book points to the late 2000s financial crisis, and environmental degradation as symptoms of capitalism's decline. Also discussed are the Argentine economic crisis (1999-2002) and the piquetero movement which emerged from it, the 2005 riots and 2006 student protests in France, the 2006 Oaxaca protests and the grassroots relief work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as examples of breakdown in the modern social order which can give rise to partial insurrectionary situations.

Influences[edit]

A few of the Tarnac 9 were involved in producing Tiqqun, a French radical philosophy journal printed from 1999–2001. Tiqqun was steeped in the tradition of radical French intellectuals that includes Michel Foucault, George Bataille, the Situationist International and Deleuze and Guattari. The book bears traces of influence from the works of these philosophers, and also, most notably, Giorgio Agamben's notions of the whatever singularity and being-in-common, and Alain Badiou's ontology of the event and truth procedures. Its analysis of capitalist civilization is clearly informed by Foucault's and Agamben's notion of biopower, Guy Debord's society of the spectacle, and Antonio Negri's concept of Empire. The revolutionary strategy outlined in the latter part of the book is reminiscent in some ways of the "exodus" or "secession" strategy espoused by many autonomist Marxists like Antonio Negri and Jacques Camatte, as well as influenced by the concept of war machine in Deleuze and Guattari's works.

Reaction[edit]

The book was mentioned in the New York Times[1] and also in the anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters[3] in relation to the case of the Tarnac 9, a group of French leftists arrested on charges of railway sabotage in November 2008. Their alleged authorship of the book is the centerpiece of the government's case. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Moore mentioned the book as being the most recent one he had read.[4]

The book has created major interest in the anarchist movement and in particular the insurrectionary anarchist tendency, as well as among North American radical leftists in general. Bootleg editions of the work have been passed around extensively since before the Semiotext(e) edition. On the other hand many radical leftists have been severely critical of the book and the movement; see comments on the copy published by libcom.org[5] for examples.

In September 2010, Coline Struyf from the National Theatre of Belgium adapted the book to theatre.[6]

Criticism from Glenn Beck[edit]

Glenn Beck, a conservative political commentator, urged his audience to read The Coming Insurrection.[7]

Talk show host Glenn Beck also made the book a centerpiece in his interpretation of contemporary radical, leftist (progressive) politics. Beck, host of The Glenn Beck Program, first announced his interest in the book by making it the subject of a monologue on July 1, 2009 and May 3, 2010, after reading the New York Times piece which described the guerrilla "book launch party" held by anarchists at the Union Square Barnes & Noble bookstore.[8] Concerned by its contents, Beck urged his viewers to order the book online themselves, so as to better understand what he claimed were the thoughts of leftist radicals.[7] Beck replayed a clip of this review on his own show a year later, saying that then-current events proved his ideas correct.[9] He has called it at various times "crazy" and "evil".[10] Beck later made the book an important element of several episodes of his show.

In February 2011, Beck hosted an episode of his show titled "The Coming Insurrection: Egypt", referring to the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which began seven days earlier. The episode posed an analysis of the Egyptian revolution and alleged relationships between Leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood. "There is a strange alliance between the Left and Islamists that we're seeing," Beck said, holding up a copy of the book. "I think it's all part of The Coming Insurrection."[11]

The book was also the subject of a panel discussion in February 2011, in the context of the 2010–2011 Greek protests taking place at the time. Describing the book to his guest speakers, Beck asked each for their opinions. Brian Doherty expressed understanding for youths who turned to the book and its ideas in the face of the Greek economic crisis: "I get why the lefty kids who read books like that book, The Coming Insurrection... I understand why the thought of bringing the whole system down around its ears starts to look attractive." Of the opinion that the Greek experience was "the end of the socialist dream", he asserted his belief that Greek society would emerge from the crisis with "more freedom, not more socialism, despite books like that".[12] Claiming in April 2011, the book predicted an impending global crisis, he said "maybe by September, you'll say this is a history book. It is happening."[10]

In October 2011, with the onset of the Occupy Wall Street protest, Beck connected the book to the protesters. Claiming that it presented their views, he asserted the protesters were angered at all politicians. "They're against the entire system. Read The Coming Insurrection," he urged his audience, "because it's almost not coming anymore. It's almost like it's here."[13] He also urged Nancy Pelosi to read the book, following comments of support by her for the protesters.[14] Asserting that civil unrest associated with European economic crises inspired Occupy Wall Street, he claimed to have predicted the events two years previously by reading The Coming Insurrection, saying, "This [the book] was the plan for Europe. It turned into this [Greek unrest]." He also connected these events to the attack on Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on Regent Street during the 2010 UK student protests.[15]

During a New York video recorded panel on the strategy of the Occupy Wall Street protest, panel member Malcolm Harris acknowledged the radical potential of the protest movement. "If you want to read what the capitalists think about this, you can go look at what Glenn Beck says," Harris said. "He's got a better analysis than most people on the Left about where this could go... 'No, it's The Coming Insurrection. I've been reading these French guys.'"[16] Glenn Beck later featured an excerpt of the recording on his show, highlighting Harris' comments.[17]

Hosting a panel of guest speakers on his show, Glenn Beck asked each for their analysis of given economic and social trends. Author Brad Thor said that he felt the Occupy movement protesters and their slogan, "We are the 99%", represented the culmination of Beck's analysis. "It's the coming insurrection, which is not coming anymore. It's here," Thor said to Beck. "It's that whole pamphlet by The Invisible Committee, we discussed a couple years ago." [18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Moynihan, Colin (June 15, 2009), Liberating Lipsticks and Lattes, The New York Times 
  2. ^ a b Brief excerpts…, Libcom.org, "Translations of the back jackets of the two newest Tiqqun reissues, as well as of The Coming Insurrection." 
  3. ^ Nardi, Sarah (July 14, 2009), The Coming Insurrection, revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination, but by resonance, Adbusters (85) 
  4. ^ Interview with Michael Moore, Hollywood Reporter [dead link]
  5. ^ The coming insurrection – The Invisible Committee, Libcom.org, "Insurrectionary communist call to arms, originally published in France in 2005, in text and PDF format." 
  6. ^ L’insurrection qui vient " Comité invisible " Un atelier dirigé par Coline Struyf, Théâtre national website (in French), September 25, 2010 
  7. ^ a b The Two Faces of the Tea Party by Matthew Continetti, The Weekly Standard, Vol. 15, No. 39, June 28, 2010
  8. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (July 1, 2009). "Extreme Left Calling People to Arms". The Glenn Beck Program. Fox News.
  9. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (May 25, 2010). "Hate to Say I Told You So, But...". The Glenn Beck Program. Fox News.
  10. ^ a b Glenn Beck (host) (April 6, 2011). "Breaking the Normalcy Bias". The Glenn Beck Program. Fox News. http://video.foxnews.com/v/4630811/beck-breaking-the-normalcy-bias. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  11. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (February 1, 2011). "The Coming Insurrection: Egypt". The Glenn Beck Program. Fox News.
  12. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (February 11, 2011). "Is U.S. Doomed to Follow Greece into Crisis?". The Glenn Beck Program. Fox News.
  13. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (2011-10-10). "Sex and drugs on Wall Street". The Glenn Beck Program. Episode 6. GBTV. http://web.gbtv.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=19877789&topic_id=24584158. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  14. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (2011-10-10). "Rhetoric on Wall Street". The Glenn Beck Program. Episode 6. GBTV. http://web.gbtv.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=19878189&topic_id=24584158. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  15. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (2011-10-11). "Becoming the 60s?". The Glenn Beck Program. Episode 7. GBTV. http://web.gbtv.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=19882715&topic_id=24584158. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  16. ^ Seth Ackerman (October 19, 2011). "VIDEO: #OWS, a debate on left politics and strategy". Jacobinmag.com. Jacobin Press. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  17. ^ Glenn Beck (host) (2011-10-25). "OWS activist says Beck is right". The Glenn Beck Program. Episode 17. GBTV. http://web.gbtv.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=19948765&topic_id=24584158. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  18. ^ Glenn Beck (host), Brad Thor (guest speaker) (2011-10-31). "Glenn's Halloween Special!". The Glenn Beck Program. Episode 21. GBTV. http://web.gbtv.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=19968771&topic_id=24584158. Retrieved 2011-11-04.

External links[edit]