If silence is frightening, it is perhaps because the absence of familiar sounds tends to reject us on ourselves. When we advance in the silent darkness, it is not uncommon for us to speak to ourselves, to whistle a little refrain, to think out loud not to find ourselves a prey to the anguish. This is not easy and may even require some exercise, as our brains have been conditioned to identify silence with danger, darkness with risk. It is the anguish that the emptiness provokes, the feeling of being on the edge of the abyss and not being able to turn our eyes away from the abyss that opens before us. Yet it is also at such times that one tends to be closer to oneself, without an intermediary, with a presence of mind and emotion much more assertive.
It is difficult to find silence or obscurity in the modern world. Industrial noises always accompany us, the devices emit their electronic sounds permanently, and if not, there is almost always one to fill the void with gossip as impenetrable as superficial. Today, the fear of the void, the anguish of silence is sublimated by permanent connectivity. Never alone, never in silence, never before the abyss. And so, never face to face with ourselves. Calls and voices from the “inside,” the whole universe of imagination, consciousness, sensitivity, reflection, are rendered mute, ignored, flattened and replaced by the continuous bombardment of information, E-mails, appointments, consumer warnings, and reminders. Thus, the modern world is completing the inner universe of the individual. With the annihilated interior, the human being will find himself in ideal conditions to accept slavery, even to embrace slavery without even having the ability to understand the state in which he is: Caught in the web.
All this is certainly not new. The history of oppression did not start with the smartphone. Not so long ago, the conditioning of the human spirit was done mainly through a galaxy of camps. The factory camp, the education camp that is the school, the control camp that is the family authority and the places of worship. Nevertheless, despite the threads woven between all these structures of domination, there was still, relatively speaking, a lot of emptiness. And this void was going to fuel the revolt in the camps, and vice versa. The prisoner who is mutinous has, nevertheless, his eyes riveted on the horizon beyond the walls, it does not matter if his imagination of this horizon can please us or not. Although the camps of all types have certainly not disappeared, the ongoing capitalist and state restructuring, notably through the increasingly widespread introduction of technology, is aimed, beyond increased exploitation and control, more totalitarian, to the elimination of all emptiness. The adage of permanent connectivity is at the heart of this deadly symphony. Connected, we are always a bit at work, a little in family, a little in the supermarket, a little at the concert. Connected, one is always exposed to the injunctions of power, to the summons to consume, to the eyes of the control. We are entirely at the disposal of capital, we are the slaves who wear invisible collars.
Someone said that if the society is an open-air prison, the modern cells must be these antennas and communications relays that contrast everywhere with the blue sky, and the barbed wire optic fibers and electrical cables. Indeed, for those who dream of stopping the reproduction of domination, it seems to be paramount that they can look elsewhere and otherwise. It is not that the local police station should no longer attract the attention of the enemy of authority, or that the window of the bank would not deserve to be smashed, or that the court should not receive [what it deserves], but it is also true that domination has spread over the territory a vast number of relatively small and unprotected structures, of which more and more, if not almost everything, depend. It is in these little things that the invisible web which encloses us and which allows the restructuring of capital and of the State materializes. It is there that the arteries of domination which irrigate the exploitation and oppression can be attacked; this is where technological prostheses and their enslaved chatter can be silenced.
This is what happened when a fire destroyed the technical installations and cables of France 3, on April 21, 2017 in Vanves (Hauts-Seines), disrupting emissions. This is what happened when anonymous hands cut an Orange telephone cable in Morbihan on May 4, fifteen minutes before the presidential debate, depriving thousands of viewers and hundreds of companies of their connectivity. This is what happened on Monte Finonchio in Trentino, Italy, when in solidarity with imprisoned anarchists, several relays and cabins for radio, television, mobile telephony and military communication were destroyed by fire on 7 June, the day after the conviction of an anarchist comrade for a bank robbery by the court of Aachen in Germany. This happened on 12 June in Hamburg, where a subway station was set on fire. This is what happened a few days later when night owls burned a television transmitter and a mobile phone antenna in Piégros-la-Clastre in the Drôme on 15 June, and later stated that “the pylons which grow everywhere are sensitive and vulnerable points because they are points of concentration of flow and because it suffices a few liters of gasoline to seriously damage them”. And on June 23, it is in Vilvoorde in Belgium that a relay antenna is destroyed by a voluntary fire.
These few examples, probably far from exhaustive and all drawn from the last few weeks, show that everywhere, the cut is possible. It must also be said that, unlike the authoritarian who can only conceive of the world’s upheaval through the taking of the temples of power and the management of large masses, a sort of impossible symmetry with a much better equipped enemy, We anarchists emphasize the agility of small groups, the capacity of the individual, the spread of hostilities rather than their centralization, inter-individual relations of reciprocity, trust and knowledge. Such a way of organizing seems to us much more interesting to attack the ever more tentacular enemy, dependent on the interconnection between all its structures. Faced with the spread of a vast number of small transmission structures on the territory, nothing is more appropriate than a myriad of small groups, acting autonomously, able to co-ordinate with each other when this makes sense, practising the old art of sabotage against the arteries of power. In the silence they impose on machines, in the perturbation they inflict on the “real time” of domination, we will find ourselves face to face with ourselves. And this is an unavoidable condition for a practice of freedom.