Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Proletariat Wasn't Born in a White Vest

An extract from a 1934 piece by Brecht. I've translated it (from a French version, alas) for inclusion in a book by Badiou. A beacon of communist-nihilist optimism to shine on these dark times.

Briefly: when culture, in the midst of its collapse, will be coated with stains, almost a constellation of stains, a veritable deposit of garbage;
when the ideologues will have become too abject to attack property relations, but also too abject to defend them, and the masters they championed, but were not able to serve, will banish them;
when words and concepts, no longer bearing almost any relation to the things, acts and relations they designate, will allow one either to change the latter without changing the former, or to change words while leaving things, acts and relations intact;
when one will need to be prepared to kill in order to get away with one’s life;
when intellectual activity will be so restricted that the very process of exploitation will suffer;
when great figures will no longer be given the time needed to repent;
when treason will have stopped being useful, abjection profitable, or stupidity advisable;
when even the unquenchable blood-thirst of the clergy will no longer suffice and they will have to be cast out;
when there will be nothing left to unmask, because oppression will advance without the mask of democracy, war without the mask of pacifism, and exploitation without the mask of the voluntary consent of the exploited;
when the bloodiest censorship of all thinking will reign supreme, but redundant, all thought having already disappeared;
oh, on that day the proletariat will be able to take charge of a culture reduced to the same state in which it found production: in ruins.


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