The programmed obsolescence of citizenship

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The questions raised by some readers, following the publication of my « Cryptic Treatise » are all relevant. No matter how hard the author tries to communicate his thoughts, he cannot take into account all points of view and anticipate all possible objections. In hindsight, however, it seems important to me to clarify some of the presuppositions and consequences of the argument.

First of all, writing takes time, writing a synthesis takes even more time, and seeking clarity and precision without resorting to abstractions belonging sensibly to our culture, or even to common sense, would require a time investment that I am, alas, not capable of at the moment. This being admitted, one can also remark that the reader surprised by this or that formulation should try to clear up the matter by himself; by doing so, he would be intellectually and politically emancipated.

Secondly, as Ignacio Ramonet said, being informed is tiring. The pseudo-information that is made available to us is designed to distract us, to empty our brains, or to fill them with logos, slogans and details that have no importance whatsoever for Life (which is why it is called « infotainment », a word made up of « information » and « entertainment »). I add: getting informed is depressing. First, because the data that can be discovered in the alternative media but also, we often forget, during simple conversations with specialists who, outside their office hours, sometimes forget to censor themselves, often prove to be at odds with the official accounts. Secondly, because they highlight the chronic lie in which all political thought is immersed. The activity of thinking thus presents some glaring disadvantages: one wakes up in a world where the North is in the South and where the water freezes at 100°C. Moreover, it is not long before one is called a conspiracy theorist, a terrorist and, curiously enough, an anti-Semite. In conclusion, the author and the reader are not easily in unison because, as Orwell well saw, they both find themselves in the necessity of communicating about the social implosion and navigating it at their own risk.
Thirdly, no one denies that Europe is a wonderful idea: to bring people together, to promote intercultural dialogue, to defuse international tensions before they get out of hand, etc. Everyone agrees. So much so that the changeover to the euro has generated a real popular infatuation. But what happened in the very early days of European construction? We have witnessed the setting up of a gigantic capitalist machine seeking, not surprisingly, to favor the freedom of capital and its front men. If the movement of people is invoked, even sacralized, it is only as a « human resource » whose exploitation cost must be minimized.

What to do? Each one must draw the conclusions himself… and deduce a practice. However, some tracks remain obvious: it makes sense, on the one hand, to cut the disinforming flow and, on the other hand, to fully exercise one’s power as a citizen. In both cases, it is a question of stopping consuming and making oneself as autonomous as possible. Demediatize oneself: give up television, radio and newspapers that have proven their harmfulness. And to rethink one’s relationship to consumption. The people is no longer understood — has it ever been? — as a citizen assembly (defining direct democracy) or a set of voters (vitalizing representative democracy); it is no longer even really a reservoir of manpower (the lifeblood of militant socialism); but it will necessarily remain a mass of consumers. Here lies (no pun intended), what remains of our political power. Let us note that the citizen boycott could act without the need to name it, to organize it or to stir it up — and therefore to see its implementation criminalized. There is no lack of reasons to reform our consumption. Everyone can have their own; the most frequent are the following.

First, to preserve jobs in general and his own in particular. Relocations are only conceived and implemented on the assumption that they will not change the market share of the company concerned. Let’s take a fictitious example: company X, producing cars on our territory, unfortunately has to restructure because of competition from Asian producers. By controlling its costs, it expects to gain four points of national market penetration next year. If, as a result of popular discontent with this planned relocation, the company in question were to expect the loss of a single point (i.e., an anticipated five-point deficit), it simply would not take place. The daze of the consumers has so far made such a marginal mobilization unimaginable, but it is not impossible by any means.

Secondly, to ensure our physical and mental health. Consumer products that are not simply toxic are psychotropic. For example, the agri-food industry is a very important part of our expenses (and therefore of the GDP). The equation is simple: any food that has been transformed by industry to be introduced into the mass market has lost its natural virtues and has acquired chemical vices. Could the conditions of the slaughter be worse? More serious environmental consequences? The poisoning by industrial additives (hormones, vaccines, antibiotics, GMO cereals, meat supplements…) more radical?
Finally, to simply make the transition to a sustainable society possible. (I leave aside the necessary critique of the idea of « sustainability » in order to get as close as possible to the boycott issue). Decrease is already a reality for many of our fellow citizens who, with the help of recession, have to recalibrate their expenses (the unemployed are now more than 30 pc). However, it is almost never thought of as a positive value, as a disalienation. Psychologically, it is clear that degrowth is only « voluntary simplicity » if the actor has the choice between being and not being simplitarian. If his impoverishment suffocates him, he can only be attracted by the sirens of consumerism (see in this regard, in the dossier of Kairos XVI, the salutary distinction between convivial poverty, voluntary poverty and modernized poverty).

In short, the citizen, the voter and the worker take a back seat to the consumer. However, another answer is increasingly common: religion. Here too, a series of distinctions are necessary. Firstly, one generally understands by religion an organized worship, that is to say a social phenomenon; the religious feeling which it presupposes is ignored. Secondly, this « religious » response is all the more practiced when purchasing power is low, when the feeling of social injustice is high, and when the evidence of Western racism and Islamophobia suffocates communities and even entire nations. Thirdly, this religious expression of a socio-political malaise is historically frequent. The Irish, for example, gave, more or less spontaneously, a Catholic form to their nationalist feeling during the 800 years of British oppression (whose extreme savagery no one there has forgotten). Four, religion can also instigate policies or be instrumentalized for political purposes… (This note was written before the events of January 7).

Should we be afraid of the totalitarian drift of « democracies »? Absolutely, it is essential because fear is mobilizing. Contrary to appearances, the current political game does not seek to stir up fear, but rather to create anxiety, which is paralyzing. The anxious person is afraid to be afraid or afraid of a « phantom » threat (!), the fearful person knows the enemy and, depending on the circumstances, will flee or fight…


  1. Voir « Le partenariat transatlantique de commerce et d’investissement : un-traité cryptique aux origines oubliées et aux conséquences secrètement totalitaires ».
  2. Voir à ce propos, dans le dossier du Kairos 16 de novembre 2014, la distinction salutaire entre pauvreté conviviale, pauvreté volontaire et pauvreté modernisée.

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