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And You Call This Living?

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Rising at dawn. Quickly going off to work, using some fast means of locomotion; in other words, getting locked up in a more or less spacious place, usually lacking air. Seated in front of a computer, typing without rest in order to transcribe letters, half of which wouldn’t even get written if you had to do it by hand. Or operating some mechanical device, manufacturing objects that are always identical. Or never moving more than a few steps away from an engine whose motion needs to be ensured or whose functioning needs to be monitored. Or, finally, standing in front of a loom continuously repeating the same gestures, the same movements, mechanically, automatically. And this for hours and hours without changing, without taking any recreation, without a change of atmosphere. Every day!

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Producing! Still producing! Always producing! Like yesterday, like the day before yesterday. Like tomorrow, if disease or death doesn’t strike you own. Producing what? Things that appear useless, but whose superfluity you aren’t allowed to discuss. Complex objects of which you only have one part, perhaps the lowest part, in your hand. So complex that you have no idea of all the phases necessary for its manufacture. Producing? Without knowing the destination of your product. Without being able to refuse to produce for someone you don’t like, without being able to show the least individual initiative. Producing: quickly, rapidly. Being a production tool that is spurred, prodded, overloaded, worn down to the point of total exhaustion, to the point where you can’t take anymore.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Starting the hunt for customers in the morning. Pursuing, ensnaring the “good customer”. Jumping from the subway into a car, from the car onto a bus, from the bus onto the tram. Making fifty visits a day. Taking a great deal of trouble to overestimate your merchandise and shouting yourself hoarse belittling that of others. Heading back home late in the evening, overexcited, fed up, restless, making everyone around you unhappy, lacking any inner life, any impulse toward a better ethical existence.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Rotting inside the four walls of a cell. Feeling the unknown future that separates you from your own, or that at least you consider your own, through affection or the community of risks. If sentenced, feeling the sensation that your life is escaping from you, that you can do nothing more to determine it. And this for months, for entire years. No longer being able to fight. Being no more than a number, a mockery, a wet rag, something regulated, monitored, spied on, exploited. All this to a much greater degree than the consequence of the crime.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Wearing a uniform. For one, two, three years, endlessly repeating the act of killing other individuals. In the exuberance of youth, in the full explosion of virility, being locked up in immense edifices where you leave and enter at determined times. Consuming, walking, waking up, going to sleep, doing everything and nothing at fixed times. All this in order to learn how to handle tools intended to take life away from other being completely unknown to you. In order to prepare you to fall one day, killed by some projectile that comes from far away. Training yourself to die, or to cause death, a robotic tool in the hands of the privileged, the powerful, the monopolists, the hoarders. When you are not privileged, powerful, the possessor of anything.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Not being able to learn, or love, or seclude yourself, or squander time at your pleasure. Having to stay inside when the sun shines and flowers send their fragrances into the air. Not being able to head toward the noonday sun when the north wind blows icy and snow beats on your windowpanes; nor to head north when the heat becomes sweltering and the grass dries in the fields. Always and everywhere, bumping into laws, into boundaries, into morals, into conventions, into rules, into judges, into workshops, into prisons, into barracks, into men and women in uniform that protect, maintain, defend, an order of things that is mortifying and gets in the way of the expansion of the individual. And you – you lovers of “life”, incense-bearers of “progress”, all of you who turn the wheels of the cart of “civilization”?—

YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

from Machete #1
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