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3.6 out of 5 stars
Coming Insurrection (Semiotext(e) / Intervention Series)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2010
I really enjoyed this little book. It's one of those texts that you find yourself saying 'Yes, that IS the way it is!' with almost a shock of recognition. Certainly, at times the language is a little rhetorical, almost poetic, but that's o.k. - at least it means there's some passion there.

So what is in the book? It's divided into a number of sections, the main being seven 'circles' or areas of contention. These rather reminded me of the areas of analysis outlined by David Harvey in his recent and comprehensive 'The Enigma of Capital'.

The first 'circle' is the personal:

'My body belongs to me. I am me, you are you and something's wrong. Mass personalisation. Individualisation of all conditions - life, work and misery.' (P29)

It seems to me that this is related to the ideas in Thomas Frank's 'The Conquest of Cool' but taken further, and taken personally.

The second 'circle' refers to culture in a fairly wide sense, including the media, schools:

'A burst of laughter is the only appropriate response to all the serious "questions" posed by news analysts. To take the most banal: there is no "immigration question". Who still grows up where they were born? Who lives where they grew up? Who works where they live?' (P35)

The third concerns itself with 'work', the fourth with the 'metropolis' - rejecting the town/country split and seeing the whole as 'one single urban cloth' (P52).

The fifth deals with the 'economy' - 'We have to see that the economy is not "in" crisis, the economy is itself the crisis.' (P63)

The sixth circle looks at the environment - again, the book turns the terminology on its head by stating that 'There is no "environmental catastrophe". The catastrophe is the environment itself.' (P74)

Finally, the seventh 'circle' considers 'civilisation' - specifically Western civilisation and its relation to the State: 'The older and more powerful the state, the less it is a superstructure or exoskeleton of a society and the more it constitutes the subjectivities that people it.' (P87).

The seven 'circles' take up most of the book. It seems to me that really what is being described here is a very deep and all-pervasive sense of alienation. That rings true too.

The final sections attempt to put forward strategies to resist this alienation, to re-connect, renew and rethink the relationships between people and the 'circles'. Tending towards a sort of self-help, communard anarchism, it comes close to utopian, but it reminded me of other attempts to think through a different set of social relations - in novel form there's the classic 'The Dispossessed' or the more recent 'New Model Army'. It also reminded me a bit of Régis Debray's 'Revolution in the Revolution?'.

It might be easy, I suppose, to dismiss this book as youthful overblown utopian rhetoric. I really think that that would be a mistake. As I said at the beginning, there is a shock of recognition in the descriptive sections of the book; it is describing real issues and real events. These issues need more than a dry academic exposition - '...we dream of an age equal to our passions.' (P84)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2012
In Hesiod's mythology, Chaos gave birth to Night (Nyx) and Underground Darkness (Erebus). This trio evoke fear and anarchy and this book is a deeply unsettling celebration of anarchy. Plunder. Fraud. Sabotage. Murder. Arson. Coup detat. The authors do an explosive job explaining why you should get organized. Our society, western capitalistic society in particular, is nowt but hypocritical and awesomely rigged to perpetuate oppression of the proletariat. The prose is beautiful and intelligent. There is a terrible beauty to this anarchistic vision, at least watching from afar through my keyhole.

But there will be unintended consequences and what the authors do not and perhaps cannot tell us is what will replace the present order after, we the Angry, overthrow it. They say that anything else will be better or at least won't be worse. This is fantastically naive. If you don't have a plan Chaos will make herself at home. I can think of a few after-effects. There will be political infighting and the insurrection will disembowel itself. There will be summary executions of "traitors". Then the winners of that war will turn on the rest of us. The authors of this book and/or the leaders of the coming insurrection cannot be trusted to remain humane in their fight or after their victories. These people are no Caesars.

The coming insurrection is bound to fail. Most of the public do not give a rat's ass for communes. They don't want to set up a farming collective heaping their produce in granaries and only taking what they need. People want to send their children to school, play in their yards, drink beer, watch sports, live in safe neighbourhoods, go to the shops and find food for their families, and do well compared to their neighbours. Yes, they might moan about politicians, bankers and the the state of things but a few days of burning buildings and shuttered supermarkets will see them calling for the army. The authors should first set up a commune or two, run them successfully for a decade or two, while expanding everywhere. When people see communes work, they might be motivated to set up their own. Then there will be no need for an insurrection. The present order will be overthrown. But an insurrection that depends on evading police informers and the secret service and then setting everything on fire? Come on.

Worth reading.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 2009
I feel this book is intended more as a provocation than an prescription, though there is a bit of the latter towards then end as well. It follows in the tradition on Wretched Of The Earth and Society Of The Spectacle and if you are interested in either of these books then you will probably find it interesting. If you are looking for social and political perspective on events such as the 2005 riots in Paris then you will probably find this book useful, however you may find it more concerned with eloquent prose than clarity.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2010
At times naive, a little confused and hopelessly utopian, The Coming Ressurrection is in turn lucid, focussed and able to hit the target effortlessly. And this book is not just about the romance of revolutionary struggle. It is an achingly contemporary, twenty-first century handbook to understand the world we as westerners now live in, and how to change it for the better.

This little blue book may have its faults, but despite all of them, it is utterly uplifting.
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on 24 June 2015
This scraped up to two stars due to the mid section of the book which described in "seven circles" the state of contemporary life. This section was well written (or translated?) and carried a mythic quality in the proper meaning of mythic. It was a poetic revelation of how we live. In some way this is the burden of the book and it rings true. What is wrong then is the vacuity of thought before and after the description of the world. The authors drew no lessons and fail miserably to find a solution beyond a romantic destruction based on "communes", which would inevitably self-destruct or become repressive themselves. The paucity of thought is summarised in the view that the" economy is the crisis". Economies exist, get over it "invisible committee". The crisis is not a system, its human beings failing to grasp life. The solutions border on the inane ramblings of a conspiracy theorist with an "us and them" attitude aimed at anyone that is not acceptable to the authors. The first section written whilst the authors were in prison awaiting trial is a big time wimp out, and references as a symptom of the decline of our civilisation that people now can only afford to take holidays with (horror of horrors) budget airlines! Get real IC. Armchair revolutionaries advocating sanitised violence.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2011
"The Coming Insurrection" is a text written by The Invisible Committee, an anonymous and perhaps imaginary French group. The French authorities claim that the real authors are the so-called Tarnac 9, a group of anarchists arrested and charged with terrorism in 2008. This edition is published in the United States by Semiotext(e) and seems to have gained a certain popularity and notoriety, even being attacked on Fox News (!).

The ideological orientation of The Invisible Committee is eclectic. Insurrectionary anarchism, Situationism and anarcho-primitivism seem to be the main influences. Sometimes, the authors do make interesting observations. What I found most interesting was their strong longing for authentic community, something they believe that modern capitalism and the centralized state has destroyed. They are obviously inspired by "Green" ideas and seem to long for some clean, country living as well.

However, the anonymous authors have no idea how to bring this happy state of affairs about. They romanticize riots and criminals, advocating "dropping out", cheating on the system, and forming illegal networks of trade and smuggling. It's not clear to me whether they actually call for drug trade. In the fashion of insurrectionist anarchists (a specific current within anarchist thought), they seem to identify the revolution with larger and larger riots, but the pamphlet contains no real strategy for this either. Somehow, The Invisible Committee seems to believe that the revolution will just happen one shiny day, spontaneously. It's also ironic that these people, who have seen through everything else, haven't seen through terrorism and riots. As if modern terrorism and riots weren't a part of the spectacle! This is especially true of anarchist riots, which sometimes are almost ritualized.

In sum, I don't think Fox News need to fear this French version of the Unabomber. I think "The coming insurrection" will remain radical chic...and invisible.
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on 1 August 2015
great present for a father
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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2010
I regret buying this book, its got to be one of the worst political texts, to use the word political charitably, that I have read. It is in no way revolutionary and is in parts distinctly counter revolutionary. Avoid this pseudo intellectual rubbish.
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