The Space Hijackers (http://www.spacehijackers.org/) are a band of London-based anarcho-prankster types in the Situationist mould. What follows is a letter I wrote to them back in November of last year; I never did receive a response. Heigh ho. Despite my criticisms, they’re a good bunch of lads – more power to them! Long may they party like it’s 1999!
A BRIEF THOUGHT FOLLOWING THURSDAY’S MEETING:
One of the things that most struck me about your group is the extent to which adversity colours the tone of so many of your actions, all the “Starbucks this and the police that and…” I suppose it’s implicit in your name, the whole “hijacker” thing, and perhaps Fucking Shit Up is exactly what the world needs more of right now but I’d like to suggest the possibility that it’s a trap.
By analogy. Imagine, if you can, some mad sci-fi world where a nation’s government goes to war against the wishes of a majority of that nation’s people. Wacky I know but make it wackier: in the run-up to said war the citizenry protests it by walking along some roads (on a weekend) chanting big hard words and holding up real actual placards, “F**k this BLOODY war.” Soon after, the war starts. A bit later, the citizenry protests it by walking along some roads (on a weekend) chanting big hard words and holding up real actual placards, “F**k this BLOODY war.” The war continues.
Of course you and I can laugh at these clowns and their inability to make the simple obvious logical connection that a war waged for economic reasons has to be opposed at the economic level i.e. by a General Strike, a taking of responsibility. But ask: Why would people cling to a weapon that demonstrably fails to fire? Nostalgia? Insanity? – someone-or-other defined madness as doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Or is it the adrenaline hook, the football-match-without-a-football thrill of Protest? Or catharsis, the necessary bitter knowledge that by Golly you did something? Or some non-dimensional Reichian-style mass emotional complex embedded in the public psyche keeping it down in every way?
The first greeblings of paranoia: What if I’m only where I am because I’ve been invisibly steered here? What if the Left, the counterculture/s, are in every way doing only what’s expected of them by your boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss? The paranoia assumes a shape so intricately gruesome as to be almost beautiful; some of us remember COINTELPRO, the FBI programme that ended decades ago but people in power don’t stay there by discarding strategies that work, they refine them, sell the details to their allies. It’s estimated that one in every six protesters at the ’67 march on the Pentagon was an undercover something-or-other but once the system is built, programmed so that certain basic assumptions replicate themselves endlessly, the coppers can withdraw, safe in the knowledge that the machine will keep on doing whatever it’s been designed to do, headbutt walls for example. The first rule is: “You have little to fear from your enemies if you become them.”
Glorioski! All the young Ins telling themselves they’re Outs: the war continues. The radical energy of the age is somehow convinced to marginalise itself, to lurk at the borders. All that energy, shepherded. The essence of totalitarianism: all possible outcomes are known in advance.
Analogy over: so much for their world. If any such sickness however were plaguing our own society we would expect to see the symptoms, we’d expect to see ourselves only ever losing ground, see the counterculture becoming simultaneously more menopausal in its energies and more childish in its tactics. Rule number two: “Make your enemies make themselves irrelevant.” (Cough cough “Stealth Fish?” “Take THAT, Mr. CEO!” Incidentally – but not coincidentally – the extension of childhood has been a major goal/means of the Control-freaks for a century and a half now; that bunch they can count a lot higher than one-two-three-four. Our concept of adolescence was invented in 1904 by German Behaviourists. Cf John Taylor Gatto’s amazing “Underground History Of American Education” – the scariest book ever written and for non-Americans too.)
Which brings me to my point. I wanna suggest that The Space Hijackers form a political party and funnel some of their energies over the next few years into standing in some elections. Because:
1) To the best of my knowledge it’s something you haven’t done yet. I don’t know, maybe you discussed the idea eight hundred times in the last fortnight alone in which case, wow, sorr-eeeeeee. But the guy who answered my question at the meeting relating to vitality or the lack of it suggested there may be a stagnation creeping in? Well I believe it was Pope John Paul II, mooning the crowd, who said or rather screamed into his microphone: “Mutate or die!” It’s possible that there may be some shot-in-the-arm to be had from attempting to forge and sustain an involvement with the democratic mainstream (where not a few decisions are actually made and a whole lot more are processed), not expecting to win anything for at least two hundred and twenty-seven years but not sending it up either; playing by their rules whilst refusing not to play by your own at the same time. (“Two hundred and twenty-seven years! We’ll all be dead by then!” is what they said two hundred and twenty-seven years ago but I seem to still be here.) All your flair and boozy self-promotional brilliance: turn it for a while to the aim of getting votes and see how good you are at that. A new operating-system to adopt for a bit: “Those poor dears with the power to shape the world are so lacking in imagination that this is the best shape they can come up with; they need to be not fought but rather approached, illuminated, led by example.”
2) To the best of my knowledge it’s not something many other people are doing. I’ve been waiting this whole decade of Zeroes for the Punk-Provo sensibility to attempt to tar-baby itself to the political-process-as-it-is but that hasn’t happened yet which means either it’s a stupid idea or else the coveted “Avant-Garde” trophy is still up for grabs. If there is any vital counterculture still in existence shouldn’t it be trying to seep into the monoculture by all avenues available? Is there a counterculture, or just a scattering of bored technology-addled posers addicted to antipathy and defeat? Is anyone up for a burst of wholesome D.I.Y. in a potentially potential-rich new direction? Take your lives, make a Manifesto out of them, push it: see how many people resonate with that, how many people sign up. Could be there’s no possibility of Movement here but it may be worth a try.
3) The fact is, in this world now, if you are predictable you can rest assured you’ve been predicted, and if you’ve been predicted then there are mechanisms in place to deal with you. If I’m right, no-one is currently really anticipating that the barbarians at the gates might walk in and ask for the correct forms to fill out. In which case: in doing so, and with that “Here’s 3 chords now start a band” metameme blazing, The Space Hijackers Party (but presumably called something less rubbish; could perhaps get away with just “The Party” – that whole Manifesto supercondensed into a single word?) might be able to provoke some consternation among the planners and strategists and shits who think they can mathematically predict what everyone’s going to be doing this time next month.
That’ll do. Love and gropes from