International Surrealists Against the RNC (NYC)
An international surrealist statement against torturocracy on the occasion of the imperial coronation of George W. Bush
BREAKING the LEASH
A Surrealist Statement Against Torturocracy
on the Occasion of the Imperial Coronation of George W. Bush
Of the dungeons there had been strange things narrated—fables, I had always
deemed them—but yet strange, and too ghastly to repeat, save in a whisper.
—Edgar Allan Poe, "The Pit and the Pendulum"
In general, surrealists tend to ignore the hubris, ignorance, and narcissism of the electioneering so adored by the war-addicted Democratic-Republican axis of elites. Yet, in the 1947 tract Freedom is a Vietnamese Word (later republished in the pages of the anarchist newspaper Le Libertaire), surrealists in Paris singled out a specific French governmental cabinet's newly-minted colonial war in southeast Asia: "Surrealism can only be against a regime whose members stand together behind a blood-stained disgrace as though it represents a joyful awakening." All governments are equally reprehensible, but any one that can so easily "collapse into the mire of compromise and extortion can be nothing but the calculated prelude to the establishment of a new totalitarianism," the tract explained. We were reminded of this when the Democratic Party convened in Boston in July, and again as the Republican Party bosses, their underlings, and their henchmen gather in New York City. In both instances, the party apparatuses happily stand together behind the bloody crimes of mass murder and torture in US-controlled Afghanistan and Iraq. We shudder to think about their next petro-imperialist crimewave against humanity which will be shrouded in the red, white and blue banners of this racist Christian civilization.
Systematic torture and the full-scale degradation of victims by the forces of law-'n'-order in Iraq is a symptom of the logic of the State and its inherent racist, colonialist configurations (tellingly, many of the soldiers directly responsible for meting out this abuse have worked as prison guards
in the US). The awful humiliation and excruciating torment in US military prisons are not used solely to force prisoners into revealing vital information about the guerrilla war or into betraying their friends and family who may be taking up arms against the occupation and its quislings. Torture is also a coercive political technology deployed to terrorize and to demoralize an insubordinate population and to suppress the bitter truths about the rancid excesses of capitalism and the colossal failures of its wars.
Although the roads to the Abu Ghraib dungeon and the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp all intersect at the center stage podium of the Madison Square Garden this week, none of us are naïve enough to think that these are exceptional phenomena isolated to only one group of politicians. The spokes of torturocratic ideologies radiate out far from the helpless individual whose body and will are being broken on its wheel. Torture is a routine activity happening every day in any number of countries throughout the world as an integral part of security operations, law enforcement systems, and State authority. Any consolidated power, not just that of the Bush-Cheney regime but the entire apparatus of the State itself, passes on its surplus of accumulated violence to the next coterie of corporate executives, military officers, and civil bureaucrats regardless of political party affiliation. This power is disguised as "national security" and "public safety," but it is nothing more than statist and capitalist self-interest. Therefore, police and military torture cannot be eliminated through well-intentioned legal-aid groups and human-rights reform movements—it can only be curtailed by the sustained dismantling of the State's pretensions to moral and civil authority and its jealously-guarded monopoly on violence.
It is for these reasons that we feel obligated to re-assert surrealism against this ghoulish and self-congratulatory revival meeting in New York City this week. As the Republicans righteously speechify about this most terroristic war on terrorism, and as they swagger throughout the city
attempting to sate their sanctimonious gluttony, we will be thinking of the lives that they so carelessly have helped to destroy in the last four years. Every time one of them spouts some twisted balderdash about "freedom," we ask that you remember their feverish efforts to build a prison planet, a sprawling carceral archipelago of violence, rape and fear stretching from Guantánamo Bay to Kabul, and from Baghdad to places like the infamous women's High Security Control Unit in Lexington, Kentucky, and the jails being used by the NYPD to cage our friends for speaking out against the RNC.
We denounce the snowballing totalitarianism practiced domestically and internationally by the Bush-Cheney regime that is being applauded and honored at the Republican National Convention. Out of solidarity with the elegant wildfires of liberty, imagination, spontaneity, and sensitivity, we stand united and resolved against war, occupation, and murderous humanitarianism. Freedom now, against jailers and police everywhere! Open the prisons! Disband the army!
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion