Dispatches has received a communique from an anonymous collective called OBU, announcing a sixteen-part Manifesto. The group has stated that it intends to send Dispatches one section every week over the next four months. The Manifesto apparently meditates on the current conjuncture and calls for the formation of a diffused cultural resistance of a brand new kind. The Manifesto as a whole is entitled OBU Manifestos 1-14 (Plus Two OBU Interludes). Past sections of the manifesto can be found under our Dispatches section tab, where they will be archived as they arrive.
OBU Manifesto #6
OBU knows that someone in the past already understood the crises we’re facing today.
The injustices of the past continue and repeat themselves, with variations. The mistakes, stupidities, and brutalities repeat themselves. The paths not taken and the roads taken into chaos and horror all have been traveled or not traveled.
And yet the present remains unprecedented and mysterious, and the question facing us always is what are we going to do?
OBU believes that great learning is necessary. But it’s debatable how much.
OBU believes that intellectuals, scholars, artists and all their ideas and products are good and beneficial to the struggle. And that means ALL, no matter how apparently esoteric, hermetic, historical, avant, post-avant, incomprehensible, and without clear social value.
OBU contends that the production of beauty and knowledge is the production of joy, and the production of difficulty is also the production of joy–immediate for some, not-yet-arrived for others.
Working to understand something has political value.
OBU also believes that intellectuals, scholars, poets, and artists should at times get off their butts, disengage from their projects, and really kick in to the struggle–simply as citizens and human beings, with no special privilege.
OBU is One Big Union
OBU believes that intellectuals should not suppose that the radical politics of their writing is sufficient.
OBU contends that if you love doing theory, art, poetry, the production of knowledge of all sorts, then that’s what you should do. It has inherent value. It is a utopian model of non-alienated labor (even as it is performed in the context of a larger system of alienated and exploited labor).
But, OBU contends that if you want to do politics, then there is no alternative but– to do politics.
And “doing politics” means creating bases of actual power that can oppose the dominant powers: capital, its institutions and supporters.
OBU is Oligarchy Busters United
OBU recognizes the irony of these calls to action enclosed in the form of a Manifesto.
OBU recognizes the obvious questions that must be posed to it: Who is speaking? To whom is “who” speaking? How will these messages be disseminated? How will they be acted on?
OBU must ask, is the Manifesto itself just an artistic form, an artistic pleasure?
OBU can tell you sincerely, it is a pleasure–… but is it more?
Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that his writing was like a ladder which, after you climbed it, you should throw away.
OBU cannot answer the question exactly of how the Manifesto will ultimately contribute to a politics effectively fighting oligarchy. OBU can only reply that that will be up to its readers– but knows that this answer is a cop-out.
OBU is not sure it even likes people very much. There’s a lot not to like. And OBU assumes that the feeling is mutual. But OBU knows that this is not the point. OBU recalls that Hamlet said that if you treat everyone as they deserve, “Who should scape whipping?” Therefore, treat everyone better than they deserve.
And Alyosha said at the end of The Brothers Karamazov, “Be honest. But first, be kind.”