bolo’bolo – Against The Planetary Work Machine (p.m.)

                     (from the 'Introduction' to bolo'bolo)

The following text of bolo'bolo is taken from Midnight Notes #7 (June 1984).
Contact: Midnight Notes, P.O. Box 204. Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 U.S.A..


                        If you dream alone, it's just a dream.
                        If you dream together, it's reality.
                                     --Brazilian folk song

  (Ibu, a Midnight Noter, originally wrote bolo'bolo in German. It will
  soon appear in its full version in a pamphlet in English. It has three
  parts: an 'introduction' discussing the shape of the Planetary Work
  Machine and how to kill the machine; bolo'bolo  proper, a discussion of
  ibu's ideas and desires toward a possible arrangement of societies in
  the world; and notes on bolo'bolo which discuss many things from utopias
  to psychologies, from technical issues of food production to social
  relations.  We print only here an edited version of the 'introduction'.
  We urge our readers to order the pamphlet, advertised on the previous
  page. [ad for Semiotext(e) FOREIGN AGENTS SERIES. Contact: Autonomedia,
  Box 568, Brooklyn, NY 11211 U.S.A.]

  Why do we print this piece, aside from the fact that we enjoy it and
  want to spread it around?  First, it presents in clear and direct form a
  picture of the aspects of the Planetary Work Machine (capital) which is,
  in many regards, a concentrated version of the work machine discussed in
  our "Work/Energy Crisis and Apocalypse." [Midnight Notes #3]  Thus pared
  down, it might be more accessible and thus useful as a tool of struggle.
  Second, ibu presents a provocative critique of traditional left
  political action.

  Third, a part we do not print, bolo'bolo can help us think more clearly
  about just what it is we are struggling for; our printing the intro
  might encourage more people to get the pamphlet. Perhaps, as ibu
  observed, producing a piece such as bolo'bolo is itself a product of our
  defeat as in defeat we take time to reflect, speculate, etc. that we
  cannot take when we are on the    offensive.  Still, we ought to make
  what best we can of our defeat, to help us make our next cycle of
  struggles are effective.

  Fourth, we have sharply attacked the left in this and previous issues.
  We have offered many of our own 'realpolitik' observations as to how we
  might proceed instead of down the path and over the cliff with the left.
  Perhaps lurking over our shoulders is our 'second reality' and we must
  consider both what the second reality can be and how to make the move
  from the reality we don't want into the one we do want. --Midnight

                                A Big Hangover

Life on this planet isn't as agreeable as it could  be. Something obviously
has gone wrong on our space-ship called Earth. But what?  Maybe a fundamental
mistake was made when nature (or somebody else) came up with the idea of
"human".  Why should an animal walk on two feet and start thinking?  It seems we
haven't got much choice: we've got to cope with this error of nature, with
ourselves.  Mistakes are made in order to learn from them.

In prehistoric times our deal seems not to have been so bad. During the Old
Stone Age (50,000 years ago) we were few, food (plants and game) was plentiful
and survival required only a little working time and moderate efforts.  To
collect roots, nuts, fruits or berries (don't forget mushrooms) and to kill
(or with even less effort, to trap) some rabbits, kangaroos, fish, birds, or
deer, we spent about two or three hours per day. In our camps we shared meat
and vegetables and enjoyed the rest of the time sleeping, dreaming, bathing,
dancing, making love or chatting.  Some of us took to painting on cave walls,
carving bones or sticks, inventing new traps or songs.  We roamed across the
country in gangs of 25, with as little baggage and property as possible.  We
preferred the mildest climates, like Africa, and there was no "civilization" to
push us into deserts, tundras or mountains.  The Old Stone Age must have been a
good deal--if we can trust the recent anthropological findings--for we stuck to
it for several tens of thousands of years, especially if compared to the 200
years of actual industrial nightmare.

Then somebody must have started playing around with seeds and plants and
invented agriculture.  It must have seemed a good idea, for we didn't have to
walk far to get enough food.  But life became more complicated and toilsome.  We
had to stay in the same place for at least several months to store the seeds for
the next crop and to plan and organize work on the fields.  Fields and harvest
also had to be defended from our nomadic gatherer hunter cousins who kept
thinking that everything belonged to everybody.  Conflicts between farmers,
hunters and cattle breeders arose.  We had to explain to others that we "worked"
to accumulate our provisions--and they didn't even have a word for "work".  With
planning, with-holding of food, defence, fences, organization and the necessity
of self-discipline we opened the door to specialized social organisms like
priesthood, chiefs, armies.  We created fertility-religions with rituals to stay
convinced of our lifestyle.  The temptation to return to the free life of
gatherers/hunters must have always been a threat.  Whether it was the
patriarchate or matriarchate: we were on the road to statehood.

With the rise of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, India, China, and Egypt,
the equilibrium between humans and natural resources was definitely ruined.
The future breakdown of our spaceship was programmed.  Centralized organisms
developed their own dynamics and we became the victims of our creations.
Instead of two hours per day we worked ten hours and more on the fields and
constructions of the Pharaohs and Caesars, we died in their wars and were
deported as slaves where they needed us.  Those who tried to return to their
former freedom were tortured, mutilated, killed.

When they started industrialization, it wasn't any better.  To crush the peasant
rebellions and the growing independence of craftsmen in the towns, they
introduced the factory system.  Instead of foremen and whips, they used
machines.  They dictated our rhythm of work, punished us automatically with
accidents, kept us under control in huge halls.  Once again progress meant
working more and under more murderous conditions.  The whole society and the
whole planet was turned into one big Work-Machine.  And this Work-Machine was at
the same time a War-Machine for all those within and without who dared oppose
it.  War became as industrial as work.  Indeed, peace and work have never been
compatible:  You cannot allow yourself to be destroyed by work and prevent the
same machine from killing others, you cannot refuse your own freedom and not
attack the freedom of others.  War became as absolute as work.
 The early Work-Machine produced strong illusions of a "better future".  After
all, if the present was so miserable, the future could only be better.  Even the
working class organizations were convinced that industrialization would lay the
basis for a society of more freedom, more free time, more pleasures.  Utopians,
socialists and communists believed in development and in industry, in
"progress".  Marx thought that with its help, humans would be able to hunt, make
poetry and enjoy life again.  Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro and others demanded
more sacrifices to build a new society.  But socialism only turned out to be
another trick of the Work-Machine to extend its power in areas where it was
lacking.  The machine doesn't care if it is managed by transnational companies
or state bureaucracies.  Its goal is the same everywhere: steal our time to
produce steel.

The industrial War-and-Work Machine has definitely ruined our space-ship and
its future: the furniture (jungles, woods, lakes, seas) is torn to shreds; our
playmates have been exterminated or are sick (whales, birds, tigers, eagles);
the air stinks and is out of balance (CO2 , acid rain); the pantries are being
emptied (fossil fuels, metals) and self-destruction is programmed (nuclear
holocaust).  We can't even feed all the passengers of this wrecked vessel.
We've been made so nervous and irritable that we're ready for any kind of
nationalist, racial or religious war.  For many of us, the nuclear holocaust is
no longer a threat, but seems to be a welcome deliverance from fear, boredom,
oppression and drudgery.

5000 years of civilization and 200 years of accelerated industrial progress have
left us with a terrible hangover.  "Economy" has become a goal in itself and
we're about to be swallowed by it.  The hotel terrorizes its guests: But we are
guests and hosts at the same time.

                         The Planetary Work Machine

The monster that we have let grow and that keeps our planet in its grip is the
Planetary Work Machine.  If we want to transform our spaceship into an agreeable
place again, we've got to dismantle this Machine, to repair the damage it has
done and to come to some basic agreements on a new start.  So our first
questions must be: How does the Planetary Work-Machine manage to control us?
How is it organized?  What are its mechanisms and how can they be destroyed?

It is a Planetary Machine: it eats in Africa, digests in Asia and shits in
Europe.  It is planned and regulated by international companies; the banking
system; the circuit of fuels, raw materials and other goods.  There are a lot of
illusions about nations, states, blocs, First, Second, Third or Fourth World-
these are only minor subdivisions, parts of the same machinery.  Of course there
are distinct wheels and transmissions that exert pressure, tensions and
frictions on each other. The Machine is built on the basis of its inner
contradictions: workers/capital, private capital/state capital
(capitalism/socialism), development/underdevelopment, misery/waste, war/peace,
women/men, etc. The machine is not a homogenous structure, it uses its internal
contradictions to expand its control and refine its instruments.  Unlike fascist
or theocratic systems or like Orwell's 1984, the Work-Machine permits a "sane"
level of resistance, unrest, provocation and rebellion. It digests unions,
radical parties, protest movements, demonstrations and democratic changes of
regimes.  If democracy doesn't function, it uses dictatorship.  If it's
legitimation is in crisis, it has camps, prisons and torture in reserve.  All
these modalities are not essential for understanding the functioning of the

The principle that governs all activities of the Machine is economy.  But what
is economy?  Unpersonal, indirect exchange of crystallized life-time.  We spend
our time producing some part which is assembled with other parts by somebody we
don't know to make a device that, in turn, is bought by somebody else we don't
know for an unknown goal.  The circuit os these scraps of life is regulated
according to the working time that has been invested in its raw materials, its
production and in us.  The means of measurement is money.  Those who produce and
exchange have no control over their common product and so we have situations
where rebellious workers are shot by exactly those guns they helped produce.
Every commodity is a weapon against us, every supermarket an arsenal, every
factory a battleground.  This is the dynamic of the Work-Machine: split society
into isolated individuals, `blackmail' us each separately with the wage or
violence; use our working time according to its plans.  Economy means expansion
of control by the Machine over its parts more and more dependent on the Machine.

We are all parts of the Planetary Work Machine--we are the Machine.  We
represent it against each other.  Whether we are developed or not, waged or not,
working alone or as employees- we serve its purpose.  Where there is no
industry, we "produce" workers to export to industrial zones.  Africa has
produced slaves for America, Turkey produces workers for Germany, Pakistan for
Kuwait, Ghana for Nigeria, Morocco for France, Mexico for the U.S.  Untouched
areas can be used as scenery for the international tourist business: Indians on
reservations, Polynesians, Balinese, Aborigines. Those who try to get out of the
Machine fulfill the function of picturesque "outsiders" (bums, hippies,  yogis).
As long as there is the Machine, we're all inside of it.  It has destroyed or
mutilated almost all traditional societies or driven them into a demoralizing
defensive position.  If you try to retreat to a "deserted" valley in order to
live quietly on some subsistence farming, you'll be found by a tax collector, a
draft-agent or by the police. With its tentacles the Machine can reach virtually
every place on this planet within hours.  Not even in the most remote part of
the Gobi desert can you be sure to take an unobserved shit.

                        The Three Essential Elements

Examining the Machine more closely, we can distinguish three essential
functions, three components of the international workforce and three "deals" the
Machine offers to different fractions of ourselves.  The functions (A,B,C) can
be characterized as follows:

A) Information:  planning, design, guidance, management, science,
   communication, politics, production of ideas, ideologies, religions,
   art, etc.: the collective brain and nerve-system of the Machine.

B) Production:   industrial and agricultural production of goods, execution
   of plans, fragmented work, circulation of energy.

C) Reproduction: production and maintenance of A-, B-, and C-workers, making
   children, education, housework, services, entertainment, sex, recreation,
   medical care, etc.

All these functions are essential to the Machine.  If one of them fails, it will
sooner or later be paralyzed.  Around these functions the Machine has created
three types of workers, although overlap occurs; e.g., reproduction requires
more than one type of worker.  The three types of worker are divided by their
wage-level, 'privileges', education, social status, etc., as follows:

A) Technical-Intellectual Workers, mostly located in advanced (western)
   industrial countries; highly "qualified", mostly white, male and
   well-paid; e.g., computer engineers.

B) Industrial Workers and employees, located in not yet "de-industrialized"
   areas, in "threshold countries", socialist countries; average or miserably
   paid, male or female, of varying "qualifications"; auto-workers,
   electronic assembly-workers (female).

C) Fluctuant Workers, oscillating between small agriculture and seasonal
  jobs, service workers, housewives, unemployed, criminals, hustlers;
  largely women and people of color without regular income in metropolitan
  slums or in the Third World, often at the edge of starvation.

All these types of workers are present in all parts of the world, just in
different proportions.  Nevertheless it is possible to distinguish three zones
with a typically high proportion of the respective type of workers:

A-workers: advanced industrial (Western) countries: U.S., Europe, Japan.

B-workers: socialist countries or industrializing countries: USSR, Eastern
  Europe, Taiwan, Singapore.

C-workers: Third World, agricultural or "underdeveloped" areas of Africa, Asia
  and South America and in slums everywhere.

The "Third Worlds" are present everywhere.  In New York there are neighborhoods
that can be considered parts of the Third World.  In Brazil there are industrial
zones, in socialist countries there are strong A-elements.  But there is a
difference between the United States and Bolivia, between Sweden and Laos, etc.

The Machine's power to control is based on its ability to play the different
types of workers against each other.  High wages and 'privileges' are not
conceded because the Machine particularly likes certain kinds of workers more
than others.  Social stratification is used for the purpose of maintenance of
the whole system.

The three kinds of workers are afraid of each other.  They are kept divided by
prejudices, racism, jealousy, political and religious ideologies and economic
interests.  The A- and B- workers among us are afraid of losing their standard
of living, their cars, houses and jobs. At the same time they complain about
stress and envy "idle" C-workers. C-workers in turn dream about consumer goods,
stable jobs and an "easy" life.  All these divisions are exploited by the
machine in various ways.

The Machine no longer even needs an extra ruling class to maintain its power.
Private capitalists, bourgeois, aristocrats and chiefs are mere left-overs
without any decisive influence on the material execution of power,  The machine
can do without capitalists and owners, as the example of the socialist states
and state enterprises in the West demonstrates.  They're not the problem.  The
real oppressive organs of the Machine are other workers: police, soldiers,
officials, managers.  We're always confronted with the metamorphoses of our own

The Planetary Work-Machine is a social mechanism in which people are pitted one
against the other to guarantee its functioning.  So we must ask ourselves: Why
do we put up with the Machine?  Why do we accept a kind of life we obviously
don't like?  What are the advantages that make us forget our discontents?

The contradictions that make the Machine work are the same internal
contradictions faced by every worker: they're our contradictions.  Of course the
Machine "knows" that we don't like this life and that it is not enough just to
repress our wishes.  If it were simply based on repression, productivity would
be low and the costs of supervision would be too high.  That's why the chattel-
slave system was abolished.  In reality, one half of us accepts the Machine's
deal and the other half revolts against it.

The Machine does have something to offer.  We give it a part of our life-time,
but not all.  In return, it gives us a certain amount of goods, but not as much
as we want and not exactly what we want.  Every type of worker has its own deal
and every worker has its extra-deal again, depending on its job and specific
situation.  As everybody thinks s/he is better off than somebody else (there's
always somebody who is worse off), s/he sticks to his/her own deal and distrusts
all changes. So the inner inertia of the Machine protects it against reforms and

Only when a deal becomes too unequal does dissatisfaction and readiness to
change the situation arise.  The actual crisis, which is visible mainly on the
economic level, is caused by the fact that all deals the system has to offer
have become unacceptable.  A-, B-, and C-workers have protested recently, each
in its own way, against the respective deals.  Not only the poor but also the
rich are dissatisfied. The Machine is about to lose its perspective.  The
mechanism of internal division and mutual repulsion is about to collapse.
Repulsion is turning against the Machine itself.

    (The remainder if this section, "Three Deals in Crisis", discusses in
    detail the particular deals made by each type of worker.  We have omitted
    it from this printing due to lack of space.  The deals discussed are
    titled "The A-Deal: Disappointed at consumer society"; "The B-Deal:
    Frustrated by socialism"; "The C-deal: The development of misery".
    This entire section is in the pamphlet from Autonomedia.
      --Midnight Notes)

                           The End of Realpolitik

Misery in the Third World, frustration in the socialist countries, deception in
the West; the main dynamic of the Machine is actually reciprocal discontent and
the logic of the lesser evil.  What can we do?  Reformist politicians propose to
change the Machine, to make it more humane and agreeable by using its own
mechanisms.  Political realism tells us to proceed by little steps.  Thus the
microelectronic 'revolution' is supposed to give us the means for reform.
Misery shall be transformed into mobilization, frustration into activism and
disappointment shall be the basis of change of consciousness.  Some of the
reformist proposals sound quite good: 20-hour-work-week, equal distribution of
work, guaranteed minimal income (e.g. negative income tax), elimination of
unemployment, use of free time for mutual and decentralized self-administration
in enterprises and neighborhoods, creation of an "autonomous" sector with low-
productivity-small-enterprises, investments in middle and soft technologies
(also for the Third World), reduction of private traffic, conservation of energy
(no nukes, insulation, coal), investments in solar energy and public
transportation, less animal proteins (more self-sufficiency in the Third World),
recycling of raw materials (aluminum), disarmament, etc..  These proposals are
reasonable and even realizable and certainly not extravagant.  They form more or
less the official or secret program of the alternativist socialist-green-
pacifist movements in Western Europe and the United States (and in other
countries).  Should it be realized, the Work-Machine would look much more

But even these "radical" programs only imply a new adjustment of the
Machine, not its destruction.  As long as the Machine (the hard, heteronomous
sector) exists, self-management and "autonomy" can only serve as a kind of
recreational area for the repair of exhausted workers.  And who can prevent us
from being ruined in 20 hours as much as we've been in 40?  As long as the
monster isn't pushed into space, it'll continue devouring us.

Additionally the political system is designed to block such proposals or to
transform reforms into a new impulse for the development of the Machine.  The
best illustration of this fact is the politics of the reformist parties.  As
soon as the Left gets the power (e.g. in France, Greece, Spain, Bolivia, etc..)
it gets entangled in the jungle of "realities" and economic necessities and it
has no choice other than to enforce exactly those austerity-programs it attacked
when the Right was in charge.  Instead of Giscard it's Mitterand who sends the
police against striking workers.  Socialists have always been good police-
ministers.  The "recovery of the economy" (i.e. of the Work-Machine) is the
basis of all national politics, and reforms have to prove that they encourage
investments, create jobs, increase productivity, etc..  The more "new movements"
enter Realpolitik (as the Greens in Germany), the more they get into the logic
of a "healthy economy", or they disappear from the political game.

Besides destroyed illusions, increased resignation and general apathy, reformist
politics don't achieve anything.  The Work-Machine is planetary and all its
parts are interconnected; any national reformist policy will simply increase
international competition, play the workers of different countries against each
other and make more perfect control over us.

It is exactly this experience that has led more and more voters to support neo-
conservative politicians like Reagan, Thatcher or Kohl. The most cynical
representatives of the logic of the economy are preferred to leftist thinkers.
The self-confidence of the Machine has become shaky.  Nobody dares fully believe
any longer in its future, but everybody clings to it.  The fear of experiment is
greater than the belief in demagogical promises.  Why reform a system that's
going to collapse anyway?  Why not try to enjoy the few positive aspects of
respective personal or national deals with the Machine?  Thus why not put in
charge positive, confident, conservative politicians?  They don't even promise
to solve such problems as unemployment, hunger, pollution, the nuclear arms
race.  Or if they do, they make clear that those are not their priorities.
They're not elected to solve problems, but to represent confidence and
continuity.  For the "recovery", only a little calm, stability and positive
rhetoric is needed: the security to cash in on profits made by present
investments.  Under these conditions the recovery will be much more terrible
than the crisis.  We don't have to believe in Reagan or Kohl, just keep smiling
together with them and forget about our doubts.  The Work-Machine supports
doubts badly in this situation, and with neo-conservative regimes we're at least
left alone until the end of the next recovery or catastrophe.  Besides
agitation, bad mood and remorses, the Left hasn't anything better to offer.
Realpolitik has become unrealistic, because reality is at a turning point.

                                All or Nothing

The Planetary Work-Machine is omnipresent and it cannot be stopped by politics.
So, will the Machine be our destiny until we die at 65 or 71?  Will that have
been our life?  Have we imagined it like this?  Is ironical resignation the only
way out, as it helps us to hide our deception during the few years we still have
to live?  Maybe everything's okay and we're just a little bit too dramatic.

Let's not fool ourselves: even if we mobilize all our spirit of sacrifice and
all our courage, we can't achieve anything.  The Machine is perfectly equipped
against political Kamikazes, as the fate of the RAF, the Red Brigades, the [text
damaged -Ed.], [the] Tupamaros and others have shown.  It can coexist with armed
resistance and transform it into a motor of its perfection.  Our attitude isn't
a moral problem, not for us and even less for the Machine.

Whether we kill ourselves, manage to get an extra-deal, find an opening or a
refuge, win in the lottery, throw Molotov-cocktails, join a left-wing party,
scratch ourselves behind the ear or run amok, we're finished.  In this reality
there's nothing else to get.  Opportunism doesn't pay off.  Career is a bad risk
as it causes ulcers, psychoses, marriages, obligations.  Bailing out means self-
exploitation, ghetto, meetings.  Cleverness is fatiguing.  Stupidity is

It would be logical to ask ourselves questions like these: "How would I like to
live?"  "In What kind of society or nonsociety would I feel comfortable?"  "What
are my wishes and desires, independent from their realizability?"  And all this
not in a remote future (reformists always talk about the next 20 years) but in
our lifetime. while we're still in good health, let's say within five years...

Dreams, ideal visions, utopias, yearnings, alternatives; aren't those just new
illusions to seduce us once again into participating in  progress?  Don't we
know them from the neolithic, the 17th century and today from science-fiction
and fantasy-literature?  Do we succumb again to the charm of history?  Isn't
future the only thought of the Machine? Is there only the choice of joining the
Machine's dreams or refusing any activity?

There are kinds of desires that are censured scientifically, morally,
politically when they arise.  The ruling reality tries to stamp them out.  These
are the dreams of the second reality.

Reformists tell us that it's shortsighted and egoistic to follow our own wishes.
We should fight for the future of our children.  We should renounce (car,
vacations, heating and our needs and desires) and work hard, so that they'll
have a better life.  This is a curious logic. Isn't it exactly the renunciation
and sacrifice of our parent-generation, their hard work in the 50s and 60s, that
has caused the mess that we are in today?  We're those children, for whom they
have suffered and worked.  For us, our parents bore two wars, a crisis, and
built the nuclear bomb.  They were not egoistic, they obeyed.  Anything built on
sacrifice and renunciation just demands more sacrifices and more renunciation.
Because our parents haven't respected their egoism, they cannot respect ours...
It is not the Third or Fourth World that is the most underdeveloped, it's our
egoism of wishes.

Other political moralists could object that we're not allowed to dream of
utopias while millions die of starvation, others are tortured in camps, deported
and massacred, or deprived of the most basic human rights.  While the spoiled
children of the consumer society compile their list of wishes, others don't even
know how to write or have time to wish.  Yet, some of us die of heroin and
others commit suicide or are mentally ill: whose misery is more serious?  Can we
measure misery?  And even if there wasn't any misery: are our desires unreal,
because others are worse off or because we think we could be worse off?

Precisely when we act only to prevent the worst or because "others" are worse
off, we make it possible and let it happen.  In this way we're always forced to
react on the initiatives of the Machine. There's always an outrageous scandal,
an incredible impertinence, a provocation that cannot be left unanswered.  And
thus our 70 years go by-- and those of the others who are "worse" off.  The
Machine can keep us busy, because it wants to prevent us from becoming aware of
our immoral dreams.  When we act for ourselves, the Machine gets into trouble.
As long as we only (re-)act on the basis of "moral differences" we'll be
powerless dented wheels, exploding molecules in the engine of development.  And
as we're weak, the Machine has more power to exploit the weaker ones.

Moralism is a weapon of the Machine, realism is another.  The Machine has formed
reality and it has trained us to perceive reality in the Machine's way.  Since
Descartes and newton it has digitalized our thoughts and reality; it has laid
yes/no-patterns over the world and our spirit.  We believe in reality because
we're used to it.  As long as we accept the digital culture to pulverize our
dreams, sentiments and ideas.  Dreams and utopias are sterilized in novels,
films and commercialized music.  But reality is in crisis, every day there are
more cracks and the yes/no- alternative turns more and more into simply an
apocalyptic threat.  The Machine's ultimate reality is its self-destruction.

Our reality, the second reality of old and new dreams, cannot be caught in the
yes/no-net.  It refuses apocalypse and status quo at the same time.  Apocalypse
or Evangel, end of the world or utopia, all or nothing: there aren't any other
realist possibilities.  In this reality, we choose one or the other
lightheartedly.  But in between attitudes like "hope", "confidence" or
"patience" are just ridiculous and pure self-deceit.  There's no hope.  We have
to choose now.

Nothingness has become a realistic possibility, more absolute than nihilists
have dared to dream.  In this regard the Machine's achievement must be
acknowledged.  Finally we've got nothingness!  We can kill all of us together!
We don't have to survive!  Nothingness is about to become a realistic way of
life with its own philosophy (Cioran, Schopenhauer, Buddhism, Glucksmann), its
fashion (black, uncomfortable), music, housing style, painting, etc..
Apocalyptists, nihilists, pessimists and misanthropists have good arguments for
their attitude.  After all, if we transform into values "life", "nature" or
"mankind", there are only totalitarian risks, biocracy or ecofascism. When we
sacrifice freedom to survival, new ideologies of renunciation arise and
contaminate all dreams and desires.  The pessimists are the real free, happy and
generous.  The world will never be supportable again without the possibility of
self-destruction, as the life of the individual is a burden without the possible
exit of suicide. Nothingness is here to stay.

On the other hand "all" is also quite appealing.  It is much less probable than
nothingness, badly defined and poorly thought out. It is ridiculous, megalomanic
and self-conceited.  Maybe it's only around to make nothingness more attractive.


bolo'bolo is part of (my) second reality.  It's strictly subjective, because the
reality of dreams can never be objective.  Is bolo'bolo all or nothing? It's
both and none of them.  It's a trip into second reality like Yapfaz, Kwendolm,
Takmas and Ul-So.  Down there there's a lot of room for many dreams.  bolo'bolo
is one of those unrealistic, amoral, egoistic maneuvers of diversion from the
struggle against the worst.  bolo'bolo is also a modest proposal for the new
arrangements in the spaceship after the Machine's disappearance.  Though it
started as a mere collection of wishes, a lot of considerations of their
realization accumulated around it.  bolo'bolo can be realized worldwide within
five years, if we start now.  It guarantees a soft landing in the second
reality.  None of us will starve, freeze or die earlier than we would today in
the transition period. There's very little risk.

Of course general conceptions of a post-industrial civilization are not lacking
in these days.  Be it the eruption of the Age of Aquarius, the change of
paradigms, ecotopia, new networks, rhizomes, decentralized structures, soft
society, new poverty, small circuits, third waves, prosumer societies: the
ecological or alternativist literature grows rapidly.  Allegedly soft
conspiracies are going on and the new society is already being born in communes,
sects, citizens' initiatives, alternative enterprises and block associations.
In all these publications and experiments there are a lot of good and useful
ideas, ready to be stolen and incorporated into bolo'bolo.  But many of these
futures or futuribles (as the French say) are not very appetizing: they stink of
renunciation, moralism, new efforts, toilsome rethinking, modesty and self-
limitation.  Of course there are limits.  But why should there be limits of
pleasure and adventure? Why are most alternativists only talking about new
responsibilities and almost never about new possibilities?

One of the slogans of the alternativists is: Think globally, act locally.   Why
not think and act globally and locally?  There are a lot of conceptions and
ideas, but what's lacking is a practical global (and logical) proposal, a kind
of common language.  There has to be an agreement on some basic elements, if we
don't want to stumble into the Machine's next trap.  In this regard, modesty and
(academic) prudence is a virtue that threatens to disarm us.  Why be modest in
the face of impending catastrophe?

bolo'bolo might not be the best and most detailed and certainly not a definitive
proposal for a new arrangement of our spaceship.  But it is not so bad and can
be acceptable to many people. I'm for trying it as a first attempt and seeing
later what happens.


In case we like bolo'bolo, the next question will be: How can it be realized?
Isn't it just another real-political proposal? In fact, bolo'bolo cannot be
realized with politics, there's another road, a range or roads, to be followed.

If we deal with the Machine, the first problem is obviously a negative one:  how
can we paralyze and eliminate the Machine's control (i.e., the Machine itself)
in such a way that bolo'bolo can unfold without being destroyed in its
beginnings?  We can call this aspect of our strategy disassembly or subversion.
The Planetary Work Machine has got to be dismantled-- carefully, because we
don't want to perish with it.  Let's not forget, that we're part of the Machine,
this it is us.  We want to destroy the Machine but not ourselves.  We only want
to destroy our function for the Machine.  Subversion means to change the
relationship among us (the three types of workers) and towards the Machine
(which in turn faces each type of worker as a total system).  It is subversion
and not attack, because we're all inside the Machine and have to block it from
there.  It will never confront us as an external enemy.  There will never be a
front-line, nor headquarters, nor uniforms.

Subversion alone will always be a failure, because with its help we might
paralyze a certain sector of the Machine, destroy one of its functions, but it
will be able to reconquer it and occupy it again. Every space obtained by
subversion has to be filled by us with something "new", something
"constructive".  We cannot hope to eliminate first the Machine and then--in an
"empty" space--to establish bolo'bolo: we'd always come too late.  Provisional
elements of  bolo'bolo, seedlings of its structures, must occupy all free
interstices, abandoned areas, conquered bases and prefigure the new
relationships.  Construction has to be combined with subversion into one
process: substruction.  Construction should never be a pretext to renounce
subversion. Subversion alone only creates straw fires, historical dates and
heroes, but it doesn't leave concrete results.  Construction and subversion are
both forms of tacit or open collaboration with the Machine.


Dealing first with subversion, we have to state that every type of worker, every
functionary of the Machine and every part of the world has its own specific
potential of subversion.  There are different ways of doing damage to the
Machine and not everybody has the same possibilities.  A planetary menu of
subversion could be described as follows:

A- Dysinformation: sabotage (of hardware or programs), theft of machine-time
   (for games or private purposes), defective design or planning,
   indiscretions (e.g. Ellsberg and the Watergate scandal), desertions
   (scientists, officials), refusal of selection (teachers), mismanagement,
   treason, ideological deviation, false information (to superiors);
   effects can be immediate or long run (seconds, years).

B- Dysproduction: opting out, low quality, sabotage, strikes, sick-leaves,
   shop-floor assemblies,  demonstrations in the factories, mobility,
   occupations (e.g., the struggles of the Polish workers);
   effects--medium term (weeks, months).

C- Dysruption: riots, street blockades, violent acts, flight, divorce,
   domestic rows, looting, guerilla warfare, squatting, arson
   (e.g., Sao Paulo, Miami, Soweto, El Salvador);
   effects--short term (hours, days).

Of course all these acts also have long-term effects; here we are only talking
about their direct impact as forms of activity.  Any of these types of
subversion can damage the Machine, can even paralyze it temporarily.  However,
each of them can be neutralized by lack or misapplication of the two others,
because their impact is different depending on time and space.  Dysinformation
remains inefficient if it's not applied to the production or physical
circulation of goods or services.  In that case it becomes purely an
intellectual game and destroys itself.  Strikes alone can always be crushed
because nobody prevents the police from intervening by dysruptive actions.
Dysruption is quickly finished, because the Machine controls supply from its
production-sector.  The Machine knows that there will always be subversion
against it, that the deal between it and the different types of workers will
always have to be bargained for and fought out again. It only tries to stagger
the attacks of the three sectors so that we cannot support and expand our
struggles to multiply each other and become a kind of counter-machine.

Workers who have just won a strike (dysproduction) are angry at unemployed
demonstrators who prevent them with a street blockade from getting to their
factory on time.  A firm goes bankrupt and the workers complain about engineers
and managers.  But it was a substructive engineer who willingly produced a bad
design and a manager who wanted to sabotage the firm.  The workers lose their
jobs, take part in unemployment demonstrations, there are riots...police
(workers) do their job.  The Machine transforms the isolated attacks of
different sectors into idle motion.  For the machine, nothing is more
instructive than attacks and nothing more dangerous than long periods of calm,
because in this case it does not know what is going on inside the organisms of
its own body.  The Machine cannot exist without a certain level of sickness and
dysfunction.  Partial struggles are the means of control and a kind of fever
thermometer that provides it with imagination and dynamism.  If necessary, it
can even provoke struggles to test its instruments of control.

Dysinformation, dysproduction and dysruption would have to be joined on a mass
level in order to produce a critical situation for the Machine.  Such a deadly
conjuncture can only come into being by the overcoming of the separation of the
three functions and worker-types, and the separation can only be overcome by and
through struggles in the various sectors.  There should emerge a kind of
communication with which the Machine is not designed to deal: dyscommunication.
The name of the final game against the Machine is thus ABC-Dysco.

Where can such ABC-dysco-knots develop?  Hardly where the workers meet in their
Machine functions, i.e. at the workplace, in the supermarket or in the
household.  A factory is organized division and the unions only mirror this
division, but don't overcome it.  On the job the different interests are
particularly accentuated: wage, position, hierarchy and privileges all build up
walls.  In the factories and offices workers are isolated from each other, the
noise level is too high, the tasks absorbing.  ABC-dysco is not likely to happen
in the economic core of the Machine.

But there are domains of life--for the Machine mostly marginal domains--that are
more propitious for dysco.  The machine hasn't digitalized and rationalized
everything: religion, mystic experience, language, native place, nature,
sexuality, all kinds of spleens, crazy ideas, fancies.   Life as a whole slips
away from the Machine's patterns. Of course the machine is aware of its
insufficiency in these fields and tries to functionalize them economically.
Religion becomes sect-business, nature can be exploited by tourism and sport,
the love for one's country degenerates into an ideological pretext for weapons
industries, sexuality is commercialized by the sex-business, etc. There's no
need that couldn't be turned into a commodity, but as a commodity it gets
reduced and mutilated.

Certain needs, however, are particularly inappropriate for mass-production,
above all those of authentic, personal experience.  The conversion succeeds only
partially, and more and more people are becoming aware of "the rest".  The
success of the environmental movements, of the peace movement, of ethnic or
regionalist movements, or certain forms of "new religiousness" (progressive or
pacifist churches), or homosexual subcultures, is probably due to this
insufficiency. Whether identities are newly discovered or created that lie
beyond the logic of economy, there have been ABC-knots.  As 'war objectors',
intellectuals, employees, women and men have met.  Homosexuals gather regardless
of their jobs.  Indians, Basques or Armenians struggle together--"a kind of new
nationalism" (or regionalism) overcomes job and educational barriers.  The Black
Madonna of Czestochowa might have contributed to unite Polish workers,
intellectuals and farmers.  It is no accident that in recent times such types of
movements have reached high levels of strength.  Their substructive power is
based on the multiplication of ABC-encounters that have been possible in their
framework.  One of the first reactions of the Machine has always been to play
off against each other the elements of these encounters and to establish the old
mechanism of mutual repulsion.

The above-mentioned movements have only produced superficial and short-lived
ABC-dysco.  In most cases the different types just touched each other on a few
occasions and slipped back once again into their everyday division.  Those of us
involved created more mythologies than realities.  In order to exist longer and
to exert a substantial influence, we should also be able to fulfill everyday
tasks outside the Machine: we should also comprise the constructive side of
substruction. We should attempt  the organization of mutual help, moneyless
exchange, of services, of concrete cultural functions in neighborhoods.  In this
context we should create anticipations of  bolos, of barter-agreements, of
independent food-supply, etc.  Ideologies (or religions) are not strong enough
to overcome barriers such as income, education and position.  As ABC-types, we
have to compromise ourselves in every day life.  Certain levels of self-
sufficiency, of independence from state and economy, must be reached to
stabilize such dysco-knots.  We cannot work 40 hours per week and still have the
time and energy for neighborhood initiatives.  ABC-knots can't just be cultural
decorations, they should be able to replace at least a little fraction of money-
income to get some free time.  What these ABC-dysco-knots can look like
practically can only be discovered through practice.  Perhaps they will be
neighborhood centers, food-conspiracies, farmer/craftsman exchanges, energy
coops, communal baths, car-pools, etc.  All kinds of meeting points that can
bring together all three types of workers on the basis of common interests are
possible ABC-dyscos.

   (Midnight Notes reminds the reader of ibu's warning that subversion must
   not be avoided in the guise of construction: the two must be united as

The totality of such ABC-Knots will disintegrate the machine, produce new
conjunctures of subversion, keep in motion all kinds of movements in an
invisible manner.  Diversity, invisibility, flexibility, lack of names, flags
and labels, refusal of pride of honor, avoidance of political behavior and
representative temptations can protect such knots from the eyes and hands of the
Machine.  Information, experiences and practical instruments can be shared in
this way.  ABC-dysco-knots can be laboratories for new, puzzling and surprising
forms of action as they can use all three functions and the respective
dysfunctions of the Machine.  Even the brain of The Machine doesn't have access
to this wealth of information, because it must keep divided the thinking about
itself (principle of competencies and divided responsibility). ABC-dysco-knots
are not a party, not even a kind of movement, coalition, or umbrella-
organization.  They're just themselves, the cumulation of their single effects.
They might meet in punctual mass-movements, test their strength and the reaction
of the Machine, and then disappear again in every-day-life.  They combine their
forces where they meet each other in practical tasks.  They're not an anti-
Machine movement, they are the content and material basis of the destruction of
the Machine.

Due to their conscious non-organizedness, ABC-knots are always able to create
surprises.  Surprise is vital, as we're in a fundamental disadvantage in [the]
face of the Machine: we can be 'blackmailed' by the constant threats of death or
suicide pronounced by the Planetary Machine.  It cannot be denied that guerilla-
warfare as a means of subversion can be necessary in certain circumstances
(where the Machine already is killing).  The more ABC-knots, network and tissues
there are, the more the Machine's instinct of death is awakened.  But it's
already part of our defeat is we have to face the Machine with heroism and
rediness for sacrifice. Somehow we have to accept the Machine's `blackmailing'.
Whenever the Machine starts killing, we should retreat.  We shouldn't frighten
it.  It must die in a moment when it doesn't expect it. This sounds defeatist,
but it is one of the lessons we can learn from Chile, from Grenada, from Poland:
when the struggle can be put on the police or military level, we're about to
lose.  Or if we win, it's exactly our police or military aspect that will have
won and not ourselves: we'll get a "revolutionary" military dictatorship. When
the Machine takes to mere killing,  we have obviously made a mistake.  We should
never forget, that we are also those that shoot.  We're never in front of the
enemy, we are the enemy.  This fact has nothing to do with non-violence-
ideologies: you can be very violent and still not kill each other.

Damage (to the Machine) and violence are not necessarily linked. It wouldn't
serve us either to put flowers into the soldiers' button-holes or be nice to the
police.  They cannot be cheated by symbolism, by arguments and ideologies--
they're like us.  But maybe the policeman has neighbors, the general is gay, the
soldier has heard that his sister is active in some ABC-dysco-knot.  When there
are enough dyscos, there are as many security-leaks and risks fir the Machine.
We've got to be careful, practical and discreet.

When the Machine kills, there aren't yet enough ABC-dysco-knots. Too many parts
of its organism are still in good health and it can hope to save itself by a
violent operation.  The Machine won't die of a heart attack, but it can die of
ABC-cancer, becoming aware of it when it's too late for any operation or
radiation,  These are the rules of the game.  Those who don't respect them, must
quit the game (and will be heroes).

Substruction as a (general) strategy is a form of practical meditation.  It can
be the following Yantra, that combines substruction (movement aspect) and bolo
(the future basic community):  [see included .GIF--Ed]


The Work-Machine has Planetary character, so a successful bolo'bolo-strategy
must also be planetary from the beginning.  Purely local, regional or even
national dysco-knots will never be sufficient to paralyse the World-Machine as a
whole.  West, East and South must start simultaneously to subvert their
respective functions inside the Machine and to create new constructive
anticipations.  What is true for the three types of workers on a micro-level is
also true for the three parts of the world on a macro-level.  There must be
planetary dysco-knots. There must be tricommunication between dysco knots.  The
Planetary Trick is trico.

Trico is dysco between ABC-knots in each of the three major parts of the world:
western industrial countries, socialist countries and underdeveloped countries.
A trico-knot is the encounter of three local ABC-knots on an international

Anticipations of  bolos will get in contact in this trico-knot manner.  Of
course these contacts must be established outside of governments, of
international or development-aid organizations.  The contacts must function
directly between neighborhoods, between everyday initiatives of all kinds.
There must be a trico between St. Marks Place (New York), Gdansk North-East 7,
Mutum-Biyu (Nigeria); or: Zurich-Stauffacher, Novosibirsk/Block A 23, Vuma
(Fidji), etc..  Such trico knots could first originate on the basis of
accidental personal acquaintances (on tourist trips, etc.).  Then they could be
multiplied by the activity of already existing tricos, etc..  The practical use
of a trico-knot (and there must be one) can be very trivial in the beginning:
exchange of necessary goods (medicine, records, spices, clothes, equipment) that
should be moneyless or at least very cheap.  It is obvious that since the
exchange of goods presently isn't equal between the three parts of the world,
the Third World-partner will need a lot of basic products to make up for the
exploitation by the world market, and also need a lot of material for the
construction of a basic infrastructure (fountains, telephones, generators).
Nevertheless this doesn't mean that trico is just a type of aid for development.
The partners will be aware of creating a common project, the contact will be
person to person, the aid will be adapted to the real needs and will be based on
personal relationships.  Even under these difficult conditions exchange won't be
one-sided. A-dysco-knots will give material goods (as they have plenty of them),
but they'll get much are cultural and spiritual "goods" in exchange: for
example, they can learn a lot from life- styles in traditional villages about
nature, mythology, human relations, etc.. As we've said, every deal, even the
most miserable one, has some advantages: instead of frightening ourselves with
the disadvantages of the other deals, we'll exchange those elements that are
still valuable and strong.

The trico-knots permit the participating ABC-dysco knots to unmask the mutual
illusions of their deals and to stop the division-game of the World-Machine.
Western dyscos will learn about socialist everyday life and will get rid of both
socialist propaganda and red-baiting anti-communism.  The Eastern partners will
have to give up their illusion on the Golden West and at the same time they'll
become immune to the official indoctrination in their own countries. Third-
World-dyscos destroy development-ideologies and socialist demagoguery and will
be less vulnerable to `blackmailing' by misery. All this won't be an educational
process, but a natural consequence of tricommunication.  A Western dysco-knot
might help the Eastern partner get a Japanese stereo-set for free--needs are
needs--even those created by the Machine's advertising strategies.  In the
process of expansion of tricos, of closer exchange and of the growing of
bolo'bolo-structures, authentic wishes, whatever they might be, will become
predominating.  Perhaps dances and fairy tales from Africa will be more
interesting than disco, Russian songs more attractive than cassette-recorders.

Planetary substruction from the beginning is a precondition for the success of
the strategy that could lead to something like bolo'bolo.  If  bolo'bolo remains
just a spleen of a single country or a region, it's lost, it'll be another
impulse for development.  On the basis of tricommunication those planetary
relationships come into being that will disintegrate the Nation-States and the
political blocks. Like the dysco-knots, the trico-knots form a network of
substruction that will paralyze the World Machine.  Out of tricos there will
grow barter-agreements (fenos), general hospitality (sila) new culturally
defined regions (sumi) and a planetary meeting point (asa'dala). The trico-
network will also have to block the war-machines of the single countries from
inside and thus be the real peace-movement, precisely because they're not
primarily interested in "peace" but because they've got a common, positive

   (Here we break off.  Generally the rest is the description by this ibu of
   bolo'bolo.'ll have to get the pamphlet to find out what it
   says.  In our previous issue, by the way, we said that we would explain
   the various symbols we overlaid on some of the pages.  The symbols are
   from bolo'bolo and are explained in the forthcoming pamphlet.
     --Midnight Notes)

A bolo is an autonomous community corresponding to the anthropological unit of a tribe (a few hundred individuals).
The name is an example of a fictional auxiliary language (or rather, a basic vocabulary) intended for use in a
bolo-based global community, called asa'pili.
asa'pili terms:

• ibu "individual, person"
• bolo "community, village, tribe"
• sila "hospitality, tolerance, mutual aid"
• taku "personal property, secret"
• kana "household, hunting party, family, gang"
• nima "way of life, tradition, culture"
• kodu "agriculture, nature, sustenance"
• yalu "food, cuisine"
• sibi "craft, art, industry"
• pali "energy, fuel"
• sufu "water, water supply, well, baths"
• guno "house, building, dwelling"
• belo "medicine, health"
• nugo "death, suicide pill"
• pili "communication, science, magic, language, media"
• kene "communal work, communal initiative"
• tega "district, town"
• dala "committee, council, assembly"
• dudi "foreigner, spy, observer"
• fudo "city, trading area, bioregion"
• sumi "region, linguistic area, island"
• asa "earth, world"
• buni "gift, present"
• mafa "depot, warehouse"
• feno "treaty, agreement, trade relation"
• sadi "market, stock market, fair"
• fasi "travel, transport, traffic, nomadism"
• yaka "disagreement, war, violence"

The pseudonym P.M. (the most common initials in the Swiss telephone directory, mostly spelled in lowercase, p.m.) is used by an otherwise anonymous Swiss author (born 1946), best known for his 1983 anarchist / anti-capitalist social utopia bolo’bolo, publishing with the paranoia city verlag of Zürich.

July 11, 2010 - Posted by | anti-endustriyalizm, anti-kapitalizm, anti-otoriter / anarşizan, ekokoy - permakultur, ekotopya heterotopya utopyalar, isyan, kent yasami, kir yasami, kooperatifler vb modeller, ozyonetim, sistem karsitligi, yerel yönetimler


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