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Translated by Ken Knabb

We want to see truth in the form of practical results

THE FOLLOWING PAGES are addressed exclusively to revolutionary workers. To workers, because no one except those who are directly involved in the processes of production is in a position to break the bonds of commodity domination. To revolutionary workers, because workers who remain submissive to labor unions or political parties are nothing but stupid slaves, working to reinforce the very system that oppresses them.

Over the last ten years increasingly frequent and radical wildcat strikes have shaken bourgeois-bureaucratic domination, but have not yet succeeded in overthrowing it. This latent insurrectionary movement has made the proletariat aware of capitalism's increasing domination of all aspects of human behavior and of nature itself. It has also made it aware of its own strength and of the inherent weakness of the commodity system and the State.

Within this rebellion we can also see the beginnings of a lifestyle in violent opposition to the survival which is now the world's most widely shared poverty. This rebellion consists of fragmentary and often confused reactions, arising out of the spontaneous desire to abolish work, sacrifice, economism, boredom, constraints, separations, and spectacles; but however scattered and isolated these reactions may be, they are laying the foundation for a radically new society: a society of total self-management.

The revolutionary theory of total self-management has endeavored to give a greater coherence to this whole range of rebellious reactions. It has now developed to the point where it must re-enter the movement it came from, the insurrectionary movement of the workers.

From now on the success or failure of total self-management depends on those in fields, factories, warehouses, stores, and transportation networks who hold the fate of the commodity in their hands. They can turn the fruits of earth and industry to the benefit of everyone, or they can continue to work against themselves and everyone else by allowing capitalism to continue to spread its pollution.

A decisive change is taking shape. We need only accelerate it by providing it with greater effectiveness and practical coherence. To wait any longer would be a crime, or worse yet, a historical error, which all the water in the ocean would never suffice to wipe away.

The conditions are favorable. Sophisticated technologies are at our disposal — if we turn them against those who exploit us, everything is possible and nothing is utopian. Never has survival reigned so widely, and never has it provoked so much resistance. Never has the state had more means of falsification at its disposal, and never has it been more vulnerable to the most simple truths. Never has the commodity system so thoroughly conditioned people to money, power and appearance, and never have people risen up to destroy it with such lucidity, outrage, creativity and passion.

If, after all this, the revolutionary workers do not decide to run their lives for themselves and to push to their conclusion the social upheavals heralded by wildcat strikes and factory takeovers, those who don't have those means will turn total self-management into one more lie in the heaven of ideas, acting once again like messiahs descended to earth to preach the organization of the proletariat, in the best tradition of Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, García Oliver, Castro, Guevara, and other bureaucrats.

Too long has revolution has remained at the gates of our citadels of boredom, our polluted cities, our palaces of stucco. We've submitted long enough to work, leaders, dead time, suffering, humiliation, lies, cops, bosses, governments. Impatience that is repressed too long ends up provoking blind violence, terrorism, self-destruction. We have better things to do to save ourselves from a society that is committing suicide than to become kamikazes against a regiment of cops, bishops, bosses, generals, and statesmen. But the passing of lifeless hours is worse than death. Our ultimate struggle has lasted long enough. We need victory now!

The following text is an attempt to respond to the problems that will be posed by the transition from a class society to a society of total self-management. The first chapter begins with the most widespread expressions of dissatisfaction and insists on their significance, because it is essential that the familiar become better known if we want what arises out of everyday life to return to it in order to permanently enrich it. The second chapter enumerates certain measures that need to be taken at different stages of workers' actions (limited to sabotage or détournement; during wildcat strikes; and during workplace takeovers). The third chapter presents a model of what total self-management might be like, and of a society based on the satisfaction of individual desires and passions.

Such notes inevitably contain weaknesses, hesitations, and even mistakes, but their radicality is indisputable. They merit being discussed, but not by intellectual jerks who are only capable of raising abstract objections. The only purpose of these notes is to be debated on the spot, in workplaces at the most explosive moments. At such moments, when they are tried out, corrected, and communicated by all the means now monopolized by bosses, managers, and union bureaucrats (telex, photocopying, radio, PA systems, printshops), they will give cohesion to the insurrectionary spirit and cut through the hesitations and delays that have so often proved fatal during the first moments of a revolution. In so doing, they will throw in the face of the statists the reason in history that they fear more than anything else when it is expressed by the proletariat in arms: "This is the society we are going to build. This is why we seek your destruction."

The Subsistence Society