Lebenskünstler

What’s your sign? – Maggot in the apple? – Great escaper? – Archetypes of dissent – Andy Merrifield

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 04/25/2013

Archetypes of Dissent – Andy Merrifield

Let me flag out five “archetypes of dissent”: (1) Secret Agents; (2) Double Agents; (3) Maggots in the Apple; (4) Great Escapers; and (5) Great Refusers.

Secret Agents are people who devote their very lives and being to the radical cause. They may be professional organizers and tacticians, plotting and dissenting, often clandestinely, writing and printing militant literature, existing to spread the word and fight the power…

If Secret Agents have a “cover,” Double Agents conceal their dual identities. Their being isn’t “either/or” but “both/and.” In practice, this makes for a strange, schizoid practice, a deeper political idealism lurking behind a socially conventional pragmatism, a person in society who is rebelling against society…

“Maggots in the apple” is the evocative phrase Henri Lefebvre took from French novelist Stendhal…And they work, if they can find it, insecurely, at McJobs, on temporary contracts, on workfare programs and in internships. Many are students and post-students who know that before them lies a dark, deep abyss that’s about to engulf them, a black hole of the labor market and debt. This ragged array of people now attempts to live out within bourgeois society, challenging its “moral” economic order, surviving in its core, “like a maggot in an apple,” trying to eat their way out from the inside.

Great Escapers take to flight as a form of fight and express a spirit of critical positivity. They have absolutely no truck with existing society and go it alone, or alone with others, to create alternative radical communities and communes, frequently self-sufficient, both in the city and the countryside…

Great Refusers take to fight as a form of flight. They express a spirit of negative defiance, immortalized by Herbert Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man, the no-holds-barred outcry “against that which is.” In refusing to play the game, in voicing NO, in individually and collectively downing tools, Great Refusers already begin to create another dimension to life…

Doubtless, dissenters here can fall into more than one category, and might even fall between categories. Their respective constitution and organizing causes, be they romantically idealist or pragmatically realist, can likewise change over time, subject to personal and political circumstances. Indeed, the changing nature of their revolt suggests that this falling in and out of categories, and between categories, will make dissent both positively and negatively charged, a constant toing and froing that makes revolt more flexible and adaptive.

Meanwhile, all categories need each other, reinforce one another, and offer both offensive fronts and rearguard defenses. And the efficacy of any dissent will likely be predicated on how these dissenters organize themselves internally yet coordinate themselves externally, reach out to one another, create a bigger kaleidoscope, a more inclusive constellation of dissent that coexists horizontally, democratically.

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