The Reverse Road


Alfredo M. Bonanno

Times of doubt and uncertainty have arrived. New and old fears spur the search for guarantees. In the market where human affairs are managed, new models of comfort are briskly haggled over. Madonnas weep, politicians make promises; everywhere war and misery, savagery and horror are rife, rendering us now unable to even feel outrage, let alone to rebel.

People have been quick to accustom themselves to blood. They scarcely smell the odor of the massacres, and every day something new and more incredible awaits them: Tokyo, Gaza, the changeless Bosnia, Burundi and still more places, remote, distant, and yet nearby. What they ask is to be left out of it. Being informed, even of the smallest household massacres, those of Saturday evening for example, which shape dozens of deaths weekly, with no other purpose than that of knowing in order to forget.

In a world that is revealed to be increasingly weak in real meanings, in motivations that give content to life, in projects worthy of being lived, people give away freedom for specters that are in easy reach, specters that come out from the studios of power. Religion is one of these specters. Not any religion whatsoever, objectified in distant and crusty practices, governed by priests and simulations lacking sense, but a religion that can reach the emptiness of their minds, filling it with the future, that is with hope.

I am quite aware that a religion of this sort does not exist, but there are many people who try hard to exploit the need for it that does exist . Against this need, the rationalist claims made by Cartesian veterans of the victories through which they have conquered, and destroyed, the world are worthless. Their chatter of scientific certainty no longer charms anyone. No one, except for a small group of relentless intellectuals, is willing to believe in the capacity of science to solve all the problems of humanity, to give an answer to all the questions concerning the eternal fear of the unknown.

Now, it seems, even we anarchists allow ourselves to take on this extraordinary laceration, to which we should instead remain strangers, if we want to find a path for action, a path capable of making us understand reality, and thus putting us in a position to transform it. Even we don’t quite know what to do.

On the one hand, we withdraw, horrified, in the face of always delirious and disgusting manifestations of faith in all its forms. Sometimes we have pity for the man that stoops, that suffers under pain, and thus accepts the image of the incredible specter, and hopes, and continues to suffer and hope. But we can have no more than this for him. Immediately afterwards, contempt takes over, and with contempt, refusal, distancing, rejection.

On the other hand, still looking carefully, what do we find? We find an equally contemptible misery, but one that knows how to dress itself well, with the garments of culture and fine speech. This latter misery believes in science and in the world that can be systematized, in the world that is moving toward its highest destinies. But it closes its eyes and covers its ears, waiting for the storm to die down, unconscious and pitiless in the face of the pain and misery of the rest of the world. This universe of specialists and respectable people also disgusts us, in many ways as much as or more than the other, that at least had ignorance and the passionate force of emotion on its side.

But us, what do we do? We don’t beat our chests, nor do we go around with a slide-rule in our pockets. We believe neither in god nor science. Neither miracle workers nor wise men in white coats interest us. But are we then really beyond all this?

I don’t think so. Merely reflecting, we realize that we are still children of our times. But, being anarchists, we are so in a reversed manner. We naively think that it is enough to overturn the errors of others like a glove in order to have the beautiful truth dished out in shovelfuls. It isn’t so.

Therefore, refusing what is of the obscure which exists in the times in which we live, we set our feet on the certainties of a different science, indeed, a science that we must build completely ourselves, from top to bottom, but that like the other one will be based on reason and will. And, at the same time, refusing what there is of the functional and utilitarian in science, we go in search of sensations and emotions, intuitions and desires from which we expect answers for all questions, answers that cannot come to the extent that these stimuli crumble in our excessively rough hands.

Thus, we reel, now in one direction, now in another. We don’t have the ideological certainties of a few decades ago, but the critiques we have developed are still not able to tell us with the least bit of trustworthiness what to do. Thinking that we are in a position to act beyond every value, every foundation, in the moment that we ask ourselves what to do, we don’t know how to give ourselves a sure answer.

In other times, we had less fear of ridicule, we were more obtuse in our stubborn and coherent doing, less worried about matters of style. I fear that we are too much in love with subtleties, with nuances. Continuing along this path, we might even lose the meaning of the whole that has never been lacking, the projectual sense that made us feel rooted in reality, part of something in the course of transformation, not mere monads, brilliant in our own light, but dark to each other.