What does it take to change a life?
I mean to truly change it. To be reborn in an instant and rise like a phoenix from the ashes, knowing that nothing will ever be the same again. Some say it takes a catastrophe that shakes the old world to its very foundation, a flood carrying away all relics of bygone times. In the face of disaster, some say, we discover a new world. We feel familiar with strangers, rediscovering the basic intimacy that connects us like an invisible golden cord which was lost long ago in the maze of modern society. There are different types of catastrophes, but the worst catastrophe of all is the one we’re living in. We’re not content, are we? We can feel the weight of our unlived lives in our bones, an indefinite longing, a nostalgia for something we’ve never experienced. We find no solace in the dazzling neon light of billboards, keeping our ambitions low, blending in with the faceless masses rushing like ghosts from place to place in search of a raison d’être, that will never be found in the channels of a flatscreen TV. We live in a world of simulacra, in Baudrillard’s hyperreality, where signs take over and replace all real life. Is it work to live or live to work? Never mind, just keep your eyes to the floor and your hands up to the sky in hope of some divine reward drizzling down like rain. The machinery still runs on rivers of blood, but we’ve got no time to stop and stare at the scene of the crime – we’re late to punch the clock. Everything screams efficiency, so we travel at the speed of light through our own storybook biography – we’re all safe, all secure, as long as we play by their rules. But did anyone ever ask us if we want to play their game in the first place?
So what does it take to change a life?
Some say, the flap of a butterfly’s wing can set off a tornado... At first, the silence is louder than anything else, the deafening apathy of the masses drowns out all signs of life. But if you listen closely, there is a gentle beat that sways in the air of a summer night, the beat of a thousand raging, defiant hearts that resonates in the empty streets. We’ve seen enough, so we live for the moments, when rolling thunder breaks the calm, those moments when anything feels possible. I have seen the signs of a secret world. And this is for you, if you’ve seen them too. The night is still young, comrades. Let’s create life and not those things that restrain it. Incite and conspire. This is for the untamed few, those who finally came to daggers with life, those with an Amour Fou for revolt, whose veins pump revolutionary fire. With tears in our eyes, we swore a holy oath to never be part of the lethargic mass. We are the pistols that Bonnot couldn’t fire. We are the scent of gasoline on Van Der Lubbe’s hands, the projectile in the barrel of Ali Höhlers gun, the writings on the wall of Louis Linggs cell – hang us for it! We are the guerilla outpost at eternal war with all authority, we are sparks of solidarity in the dark stretch of hierarchy and domination. The ghosts of Cable Street live on... Slowly, but steadily, we run the cracks in the ancient lithic temples of the old world. And we are everywhere – our numbers are growing. Every minute, somewhere on this planet, a new cell of our conspiracy is born. We are the unexpected kiss from poisonous lips that will change your life. This is the first match we strike on the path from spark to flame. From this moment on, no one shall ever live in fear again. We are the CONSPIRACY OF ARSONISTS. This is our foundation paper – come and join us.
Last night I awoke from a nightmare with my heart pounding like a hammer. I dreamt I was a lone runner in a grey deserted valley, a vast and inhospitable sea of concrete, and amongst the colossal blocks reaching into the sky, it was me running until my lungs were burning. “Run faster comrade, the old world is behind you.” The concrete path led me uphill, where a voice suddenly brought me to a stop. “Where are you running, my friend?” a man dressed in a suit said with a pitiful smile, then he pointed down the cliffs and added: “Didn’t you know? The horizons are endless.” Terrified, my eyes followed his arm to discover the sea of concrete I was trying to escape from stretched in every direction, as far as my eyes could see. Then I woke up. Or was I dreaming at all?
Utopia is not yet a place that is drawn on our maps. The reign of commodities is unbroken; the horizon of capitalism has long become totalitarian. We are born into this world with all meanings predefined. We walk on predictable paths, our movements are controlled and synchronized by an army of gargoyles sitting on each and every wall. Only in secret spots we can find room for free thought and real adventure. Carrot and stick – the most evil slave-owners are those that are kind to their slaves. Make no mistake: Our chains are made of gold, so we’re quite content. And the ghosts of progress striving for more and more are dressed in slow death. We die working, Bob Black tried to teach us. Our spirits are crushed everyday, but Lafargue and Foucault sleep soundly six feet deep, while Marx was just another bearded lunatic. Or so they tell us. Pop the champagne bottles, the victory over starvation is to be celebrated - at least in their books. Mass produced meat is a victory indeed, a pyrrhic victory wrapped up in plastic foil. Sure enough, the reason that keeps the production lines spinning is not to feed the starving, but...ka-ching!... there, you’ve guessed it. Why don’t we get angry by the fact, that we don’t produce to survive, but to stack the gold bars higher and higher? And exactly how many dollars is a human life? Remember, it’s only glass separating us from the bread we lack... But we’re not satisfied with a piece of the cake - we want the whole bakery!
The Conspiracy is the crack in the window of the looted high-end boutique - war to the shacks, palaces for all! It is the smouldering flames devouring green paper to spit out fertile ashes. It is the antidote to the drug of spectacle, it is the drums you can hear on the frontline of an invisible war. Maybe you’ve even seen our silhouettes in the thick haze of teargas. By candlelight, we incite and conspire with hushed voices on the eve of April 30th 1886 as well as in 2016. Wildcat strikes again, this time it’s for real. We don’t want the end of slavery. We want to change the subjects. Oscar Wilde had it right: “On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.” Until the end of human slavery, throw your shoe in the works and stop the machine dead in its tracks. Let’s turn this nightmare we’re living in into something we’d see in a night of bad dreams and not something we wake up to every morning.
The Gods are dead and we have killed them. In the name of emancipation, we should call for the murder of all aspirers to a holy throne, from which to rule with an all-powerful hand. Any master, may hir reign spread out in the skies or on earth, that acquiesces the bloodshed of thousands in hir name, is either blind or a fascist. Thus, if there was a god s/he would have to be abolished. In fact, “hierarchia” means “rule of a high priest” – but as anarchists we refuse to live under the yoke and scourge of both church and state. To put it simply: Most people are atheists such as we are: They don’t believe in Ra, Seth, Shiva, Kali, Zeus or Jupiter. We just believe in one god less. Even with most gods rotting in the ground, new winds carry the ill-fated corpse odor from ancient, dust-covered tombs into our times, sickening our minds with the religious pestilence. The seducers of myn are still alive and well, trying to trap us in the spell of their reactionary siren song. The snakes that preach faith are spitting venom again. Those who raise their sword in revolt are faced with a thousand serpentine heads of the Hydra. Bakunin knew, that the revolt against the tyranny of the phantom of God is necessary: “As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.” In hope for the joys of heaven, the oppressed are somehow willing to endure their earthly misery. By contrast, the mercenaries of God preach humility, but build golden temples nevertheless. At the walls of their cathedrals poor sinners starve to death. “A curse to the idols to whom we pray’d, that in winter our hunger and cold be stay’d. In vain did we hope, in vain did we wait. To be humbugg’d and fool’d was ever our fate.” Raise a toast to Heinrich Heine and Johann Most – but most of all raise the question that the walls of Sorbonne University whispered us in 1968: How can we think freely in the shadow of a church? So let’s follow the path into the light, the path that Feuerbach, Tolstoy, Goldman, Proudhon and many others have walked and break the fetters that chain us to the gates of heaven and hell. “Let it no longer be said that the ways of God are impenetrable. We have penetrated these ways, and there we have read in letters of blood the proofs of God’s impotence, if not of his malevolence.” Have you forgotten the crusades, the Inquisition, the witch-hunts, the stakes of Vanini and Bruno, the torture of Galileo, the evergrowing number of attacks on civilians in Europe, the blood in the soil of Rojava – the martyrdom of so many free thinkers? True deceivers are those who deny their legacy – how will they ever wash their bloodstained hands clean? Whether its name is Yehova, Allah or Jupiter - the phantom in the sky remains an atrocious, bloodthirsty creature, the eternal tyrant of Prometheus. Faith is the negation of knowledge and thus an obstacle of petrified insanity in the way of progress. Durruti had it right: The only church that illuminates is a burning church.
So for your own sake and the sake of humanity set fire to antiquated moral litanies and create values for yourself! Through revolutionary fire we shall purify ourselves and become our own Gods, creators of whole universes. We are the gravediggers of all tyrants in the sky, we’ll burn every idol that demands submission. We are the flames that devour the last copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, we are the granddaughters of the witches they weren’t able to burn. We are the conspiracy of arsonists.
There is a myth we’re told from birth on. It has been passed on, over centuries and even millennia, from generation to generation and become so deeply rooted in our minds, that it has been turned into a seemingly absolute truth. Everybody speaks its language and it lives on in our choices and actions. The myth claims, that the planet earth belongs to us – some even believe it was created for mynkind. And with it, all living beings on it. Those who keep our planet in chains can be labelled the advocates of a Ptolemaic model of our times. Anthropocentrism is the myth that keeps us racing headfirst into the abyss. We’re like Icarus flying towards the sun with wings made of wax and the apologists of unthoughtful progress whisper us: “Higher, fly higher”. The search for fireproof wings has not yet been successful, but we’re too blind to notice we have transcended the peak already and are spiraling downwards in breath-taking velocity. Godspeed, humynity. A storm is blowing from paradise, irresistibly moving the Angelus Novus into the future while leaving a pile of wreckage in his way. “Why is it that no one is excited? I hear people talking in the laundromat about the end of the world, and they’re no more excited than if they were comparing detergents. People talk about the destruction of the ozone layer and the death of all life. They talk about the devastation of the rainforests, about deadly pollution that will be with us for thousands and millions of years, about the disappearance of dozens of species of life every day, about the end of speciation itself. And they seem perfectly calm.” This is the story of a guy falling from a 50-story apartment block. Jusqu’ici tout va bien... Ask yourself the most important question, that Ishmael confronted us with: “Are you a Taker or a Leaver?”
The tears of Gaia are a precious product to the Takers, bottled up and stored in shelves far from where our eyes can see. They’re stored deep down below the ground of our huge metropolises, where there’s a mass grave of millions. Our cities are built on a place of indescribable, unimaginable suffering – Horkheimer’s Skyscraper metaphor taught us. In modern societies, death is exiled, made invisible, denied and placed outside society even if our system is fueled by streams of blood. Baudrillard warned us about it: A bureaucratic, judicial regime of death. The system keeps you alive as long as you’re useful and choose to work for it – murder and violence are only legalized if they can be transformed into economic value. What do the dead think about us?
We, the Conspiracy, have seen enough, we have seen the blood on their hands, we have seen the seas of blood below their feet. We have seen everything they keep so carefully under wraps. 56 billions of individuals with individual personalities, feelings and fears ripped out of their lives each year. 56 billions – a number of shame to modern society. They say, the halls of the slaughterhouses of Chicago are still haunted... The spectre of human supremacism lives on. But where do we draw the line between whose life is worth living and whose not? Listen, what Jacques Derrida had to tell you about our conceited dissociation from animal kingdom...
So this is for those who hold the torch of reason up high, those who protect and preserve. We are the burning rage of a dying planet. We’re fed up with apathy, lies and excuses, we’re driven by passion and anger, moving through the night in black clothes and balaclavas, armed with the healing fire of resistance. As long as the sky grows black and the blood runs red, their laws will have no meaning past the setting of the sun. Night of justice, knights of justice... We are the Conspiracy Of Arsonists, the descendants in spirit of the Band Of Mercy, the resilient, the fleet footed, silent, untraceable, independent, unconquerable ones: the last defenders of a wild earth. We are the untamed few, whose drive for freedom hasn’t yet been killed off by the process of domestication. We are the last of a self-governed Owsla defending the Sandleford Warren. Embrace wildness - long live the ELF & ALF. As I type these words, an age-old tree, a time capsule for an unwritten history, will fall victim to the merciless ax among thousands of its companions who are being clearcut, destroying the habitat of hundreds of species in the blink of an eye. As I type these words, rivers and oceans are being filled with toxic waste and nuclear power plants are sleeping monstrosities waiting to devour the world, they are ticking timebombs for the future of life. As I type these words, the panicstricken eyes of a calf will look into her mother’s eyes for one last time... “If you deny freedom to the quiet ones, those who have no voice, can you be free yourself? Or are you caged by your own lack of compassion? We spend our lives saying no. Not me. Not my fight. Not my problem. Not tonight. What’s the difference between you and me? A few years ago, I became someone who said Yes. Me. My fight. My problem. Tonight.”
From this point it’s up to you. You all have seen the signs – the Conspiracy Of Arsonists sent out its sparks to spread like wildfire. You’ve all changed your frequency for a second – welcome to our pirate satellite, a guerilla radio liberation transmission to which we dance regardless of our shackles. We are not some kind of avant-garde – if you want to see our true face, take a look in the mirror. We are you and you are us, the unflinching face behind the Pasamontanas, the sons of Luther Blissett gone underground. If you listen closely, you can hear our call resonating in the trees of the Lacandon Jungle, you can hear our zilgit echoing from the peaks of the Qandil Mountains. Armed with matches, we carried the flames of discontent across borders in our heads and hearts. All we can do for now is plant the seeds of a new world to come and hope for the soil to be fertile. Our voices speak for those who are refused to be heard. We speak in tongues, we speak sharp-tongued and tongue-in-cheek. They can cut out our tongues and the world will still vibrate with the soft murmurs of our disapproval, rolling thunder in the distant, but approaching like a burning fuse. We lie to the face of authorities with our fingers crossed behind our backs, we trade secret stories in hushed voices with a conspirational wink from the other side of your jail cell and shout our warcries into the uproar of bursting windows and collapsing walls. We speak in different languages, we speak Argot and coa, the cant of thieves and criminals, as well as the upperclass haute langue when we infiltrate their dinner parties, we speak in the winged words of poets - ¡Camarada Neruda presente, ahora y siempre! Following Marx’ categorical imperative, we don’t just talk and talk and talk - “The point, however, is to change it.” Some run for cover, we rush to bear witness.
I know a lot of people, but I call only a few of them my comrades. It’s slow death or insurrection, here and now. These are the two paths that unravel before us... Are you content with just surviving? Or are you one of those who demand more? Are you one of us? Stockholm Syndrome is a widespread disease. This is for those, who were born with a raised fist or came to daggers with life. This is for those, who choose the red over the blue pill, for those who play no part in their Danse macabre. This is turning the tables, this is to a Patty Hearst, who never laid down her weapons. This is for madmyn only, those who spit in the face of the slumbering god of contentment and would rather feel the most devilish pain burn in them than the warmth of a well-heated room. Life is more than just a pulse. We’re not satisfied with breathing, we wanna live, we wanna burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. We’re those who wake the city at midnight like crooks celebrating their coup with a fusillade. We’re weak and we’re strong, our bonds of solidarity and friendship are solid as iron chains. Like Bonnot and Alexandre Marius we strive for a “vie intense”, our only weakness is a list of crimes. We are daggers in the flesh of the state, we share the same enemies and our means of triumphant escape are also the same. So cheers to our rebel hearts...
We’re awake only in what we love and desire, armed with amor y rabia and the utopia of a better world for all. The forgotten descendants of Sacco&Vanzetti, Jean Moulin and Durruti fighting on new battlegrounds. Life is what happens outside your comfort zone, uncharted territories lie ahead. Siempre adelante – this is an Evasion, a flight forward! And we sure do believe in the propaganda of the deed. When exactly did we lose it? This childish naivety that we can change the world. When did we lose our compassion, our connection to all living beings, how could we unlearn to see through different eyes, to focus on the small things (butterfly or diving bell?), to look up into the sky and think if we could stretch our arms as wide as possible we could just reach heaven?
They say the real revolution starts within. Though we value actions over words. This is where we bury all the pathos six feet deep:
If you’re against authority, fight back and don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life, stay defiant in the face of state watchdogs and police. If you’re against oppression, stand up for those who are targeted and get in the way of the oppressors. If you believe in freedom and equality, be vocal about LGBT rights. If you’re against racism and fascism, get active and hit the fascists where it hurts. If you detest animal cruelty, cut the crap and go vegan. Carry the sparks and ignite the minds of others. This is all the Conspiracy Of Arsonists is about. What exactly does it take to change a life?