FLAUTA DE LUZ and NOTRE-DAME-DES-LANDES
Above: Julio Henriques and the recent cover of Flauta de Luz
POSTSCRIPT BY DAVE – the fukker - WISE
Flauta de Luz, a substantial, even book-like magazine, is an excellent subversive Portuguese periodical put together around a pronounced autonomous anti-party, eco-radical disposition which so far has run to five issues. It is a collective with close ties to Antigona, another Portuguese radical publisher that first saw the light of day during the heady times of the Portuguese revolt of the mid 1970s. Flauta’s emphasis is way beyond the changing face of parliamentary social democracy a la Podemos, Trad Dad Leninism or indeed, a restricted ultra leftism that shies away from the perspective of total social revolution. Basically, the magazine is coordinated via Julio Henriques who previously published Subversao International (1977-81) followed by Pravda, Magazine of Malasartes (Magazine of Bad Arts, Coimbra 1982-1992) and one such article is on the RAP website (c/f From the End of Empire, to the Empire of the End .)
Much of Flauta de Luz’s critique of capitalism is oriented around an anti-technological, anti-productivist, anti-consumer spectacle hinged around the malign permanent distractions of 24/7 TV, I phone games and sport; a direction and inheritance stemming from the mid 20th century profound razor-sharp reflections of Gunther Anders (The Obsolescence of Man, etc) and L’Encyclopedie des Nuisances from the 1970s to the 1990s; the latter a breakaway more or less from a previous Situationist International. As remarked in one Flauta editorial, the gist of the articles are concerned with a “fourth industrial revolution contained within the third revolution” re the tendency - ably assisted by robotics and AI - “to make man superfluous”. In and against this immanent dire possibility, Flauta de Luz counterpoises a hoped for emancipatory autonomous subversion; one that is eco oriented which undermines the horrors of a global greenwash capitalism whilst also looking back at the example of the Luddites in England in the early 19th century, and even delving into pre-historical ancestral indigenous communities which surprisingly even today are sharply countering the trajectory of an “unlocked industrial society heading towards a totalitarian superorganism.” But then the ‘esoteric’ theories of late Marx enter the affray à la imaginative extrapolations from the German Value-ists, notably Robert Kurz. Ironically, all these so-called ‘backward’ tendencies, along with everything else modern, post-modern, or even the post human trajectories of a money-mad Silicon Valley, are locked within the terminal crisis of a capitalist mode of production no longer able to successfully valorise labour power, hence on life-support machine that can do little to ward-off terminal economic collapse, unlikely as that possibility appears at the moment. Hardly surprising much is made of the theories of Anselm Jappe (C/F his book in English, The Writing on the Wall among other prescient books. Incidentally, in Flauta 5 there is a Portuguese translation of an interview with Jappe by Alistair Hemmens which originally appeared in The Brooklyn Rail….. Inevitably too there’s fascination with recent ZAD activity in France hence this translation……….
Moreover, Flauta isn’t hidebound by an academic dissertation-like evasive language, never for a moment forgetting that Julio has himself been gainfully employed for many a year as a small scale peasant farmer in Portugal’s back of beyond (the High Alentejo?) engaging in day to day essential tasks that have kept the guy pre-eminently and creatively sane. In short, giving him the grounded essentials to stare into the forthcoming “abyss” (and no doubt a term inherited from Jaime Semprun and Nuisances) but in doing so with a certain poise and equanimity) especially regarding the present day world-wide destruction of nature now accelerating at an alarming speed, and itself, product of a capitalism reaching the moment of utter insanity. In 1927 (or thereabouts) a peasant anarchist arena in Portugal was called Communa de Luz (Commune of Light) so perhaps Flauta de Luz is becoming the evermore Enlightened Flute seeing that Julio has over the years also engaged in some telling critiques of music. Indeed one stands out, an interesting article on the role of music as torture under fascism. Elsewhere, there’s a certain predilection for old time American Beats choosing good quotes from Allen Ginsburg, etc .,but without a more thorough going critique which one can find in Franklin Rosemont’s book on the Wobbly Joe Hill, though sadly not yet elsewhere.
Pedro Hidalgo more than hints at the complexities of the conflicts/tendencies at the very heart of ZAD subversion acknowledging that all were kept in check by the intensity of the developmental foe brutally arraigned against the protesters. These complexities range from official chaotic leftisms to an often breathtakingly beautiful and imaginative autonomous eco direct action having no truck with any kind of officialdom least of all the green political rackets. Indeed creative lifestyle-enhancing experiment was also the essence of a protest against universal passivity and the deadly embrace of a narcissistic passive consumption destroying your own authentic heart beat plus that of planet Earth.
However rather than comment ourselves on a remarkable struggle we had little contact with, it’s best to quote from those involved: “As at the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, defend other ways of living.”
“The ZAD is also the adventure of its constructions. These are farmhouses renovated through large collective projects and new agricultural sheds with impressive frames. It is also the poetic force of the many huts in the trees, in the middle of a lake, at the corner of a wasteland, or a field; it is also the presence of light or nomadic habitats of trucks, caravans and yurts that complete this inhabited landscape.
Outsized, multiple, diverse, poetic, adapted, hacked, light, sober, precarious, made of local materials or re-used, earth, wood, straw or reclaimed, these constructions respond in scale to the ecological and energy stakes, and are a world away from the concrete and steel industry on which building is based everywhere on the planet.
What is played out here is the invention of a contemporary vernacular made of global issues and local materials. What is played out here is also the defence of a living heritage resulting from a solidarity struggle that opens our imaginations.”
“They have demonstrated that it is possible to live differently, far from the state scenarios of industrialized and standardized agriculture, as well as through methods of construction other than ways of imagining a viable and sustainable future for rural and agricultural areas”.
“In interactions between "historic" inhabitants, peasants, squatters, neighbours, wild or farmed animals, grasses, insects and trees, but also with all those who pass through, friends, students, activists, travellers, craftsmen, a common territory has been built, beyond property, habits and belongings”.
Could anybody else who wasn’t on the grounds with their hands dirty have said it better?
Below: Disobedient architectural fantasies at Notre-Dame-des-Landes
However, now that the Zadistas have won at Notre Dame des Landes isn’t it also true that further possibly deadly, real problems await in the wings related to the recuperative embrace? (On this point read also Miquel Amoros, ZAD’s Victory – Miguel Amorós on https://libcom.org/. Could an inspiring self-managed example of living differently set within a stupendous struggle morph into the self-management of alienation? Sadly we know that this is true whereby everything changes in order to remain the same. Could the delightful ‘crazy’ building become a set-in-stone permanent feature prelude to a somewhat innovative theme park; a low-priced show-time variety art installation for increasingly jaded ‘revolutionary’ tourists unable any longer to try yet again to fulfil their own passionate desires, replete with monetized site-seeing bus tours emptied of vibrant life served up perhaps by hip art/architecture university lecturers? Or could the inhabitants just stay there strategically ‘disappearing’ from media surveillance engaging in experimental communalised forms of organic farming set within wild nature still functioning around the fulcrum of self-managed direct democracy. Or say doing other things in hands-on principled ways resisting all privatisations and consumer spectacles, while in the background further exemplary struggles nearby or elsewhere will erupt seeing the status quo is increasingly febrile and crazed … Further connections will thus be made so let’s hope it’s the latter route that is taken.
Other texts on the long 50 year battle around Notre Dame des Landes have been published elsewhere notably by Libcom.org but the text here by Pedro Hidalgo is also personal bringing together affectionate and intelligent memories of old friends, not only Julio Henriques but Phil Mailer, Therese Cabral and Gerard Lambert, the latter a French revolutionary mentioned at the very beginning of Pedro’s introduction to Notre Dame and Its World who indeed was one of the first individuals (after his sojourn in England where we stimulated each other in many delightful encounters) to engage in this memorable and brilliant subversive battle.
In this short introduction, it’s worth noting - even if surprising - how often in Pedro’s Hidalgo’s passionate polemic, eco protest in the UK is mentioned especially the fight against Heathrow’s third runway during the noughties and which is once again hitting MSM media headlines seeing that conflict is about to ensue all over again. If so it could easily overlap with the nearby on-going protests against HSR2’s high speed rail link between London and Birmingham - a conflict we are passionately involved with - as well as attempting, along with others, to save from development some transcendental “landscapes of contempt” in and around Sheffield in South Yorkshire (C/f STAG’s Facebook, etc).
As for our experiences in the UK, if only, if only, if only we only had the problems of recuperation to deal regarding our ours and others autonomous eco/human interventions in landscapes of contempt (the UK’s own distinctive brownfield bocage) but it hasn’t been so. Instead all we’ve had slung at us so far has been permanent calumny, threats of banishments, legal proceedings, thuggery, etc., followed by asinine destruction of amazing sites often sanctioned by official green rackets that are truly beyond any believable rationality. However, we must remember we are faced with draconian state laws governing the land which are far more totalitarian than anything in France or indeed, most other countries. In the 1920-30s imaginative examples of plotlander habitations were built by ‘ordinary extra-ordinary’ people themselves often implying a new communication with nature, only to be destroyed through totalitarian Town and Country Planning Acts preceding post second world war reconstruction, imperiously covering every aspect of design, build and usage. There was to be no leeway. From then on it was forbidden to act in an autonomous creative way on any terrain and literally everything from then on was destroyed that isn’t part of official banality, including a truly wild nature making its own decisions. But jeez doesn’t this entail incredible heartache, an emotion that official greenwash arseholes simply don’t experience and the true test of their in-authenticity.
As a heart-rending example consider the following: A mud hut was found in a nature reserve in Watford. In all but name it was like something akin to the fascinating constructions found all over the wide terrain of Notre-Dames-des-Landes. The following facts were recorded from some bullshit report:
“A modern-day hermit who has spent four years building his remote shack from clay has been told to leave. Daniel Pike has created a home entirely from materials found in Merry Hill forest, which is a 15 minute walk from the nearest road. He sleeps on a mattress made of dried leaves, has fashioned window frames and even a bath out of driftwood. But now bosses at The Woodland Trust said they own the site and have ordered him to leave. Mr Pike said: "I am not doing any harm to anyone here. I grew tired with modern life."I came out to the woods, starting in a tent and decided to build a home. I won't be leaving."Mr Pike, who used to work at Tesco Extra, said he had no mortgage prospects and ran into difficulty after suffering a nervous breakdown. Fed up with the pressures of modern day life he decided to live simply in the self-built home in Carpenders Park.”........ He said he was living happily in his straw home until an officer from The Woodland Trust arrived and told him he would have to move.”
And to cap it all, the local Woodland Trust destroyed this terrific mud hut saying on TV news that the hut “it was destroying bio-diversity”. Are they fekking mad? Yep, they are! Here on this hallowed ground Nature and Homo sapiens must forever be demarcated and separated as having distinct identities. By bureaucratic edict they mustn’t live together. Thus on some of the sites we are intimately involved we keep schtum when discovering anybody hidden away living behind thickets of scrub and bramble, etc. We are courteous and friendly with them making sure no well paid kapo of a biodiversity officer backed up by police gets to know of their existence and throws them out whilst knowing these self same kapos endlessly grovel to developers..........
One day though recuperation in these islands’ brownfield so-called shite holes will become a reality and the moment of a same old/same old will morph into a ‘creative’ benign exploitation slouching towards Woolley to be born! Truly, La Zad est partout - WE NEED ZADS EVERYWHERE – and needless to say in a moribund UK, or rather more encouragingly, a more recent, increasingly Dis-United / Demented / Dismembered / Discombobulated Kingdom where “playing with matches [may] eventually find the light” (Humphrey Bogart).
Finally, seeing we couldn’t sufficiently well extract photos from Flauta de Luz’s Notre-Dame-des-Landes, others on the same topic have been provided by David Escalier who is involved in ZAD activity in Aix-en-Provence.
ONE LAST WORD FOR THOSE CONTEMPLATING ACTION:
NO MORE TINKERING WITH POLITICS AND PARLIAMENTARY MANOUEVERINGS. TAKE HOPE ON BOARD. LOOK TOWARDS THE END OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND THE “TOTALALITARIANISM OF PROFIT” (VANEIGEM ON NOTRE-DAME-DES-LANDES) DOWN WITH INTERNET SECOND LIFE.......
GET OF YER ASSES AND MOVE IN PHYSICAL SPACE!!!!!!!!
DOWN WITH THE DREGS OF ART STARING AT US EVERYWHERE