Leave the Manifesto Alone: A Manifesto
“It’s an aesthetic thing, Poetry answers as we fall asleep, choosing its poems as if you could choose who was worthy to shit on your grave.”
The manifesto is dead. Manifestos are a flashing up of the spirit in a moment of desperate jubilation when the victory of the bourgeoisie is not yet a settled thing. Manifestos are the way the bourgeoisie fights the bourgeoisie in spastic fits, armed with bludgeon, scalpel, and luck. We will not celebrate the end of that era with you. It was not a poetic era, it was a political era. It is this history you wish to seal over with pseudo-celebrations.
Is not Poetry already a manifesto? The well-considered and the well-mannered, the lovely and the liberal, craft and progress: are these not already the manifesto of the bourgeoisie, smeared across every page, every minute of every day? It’s an aesthetic thing, Poetry answers as we fall asleep, choosing its poems as if you could choose who was worthy to shit on your grave. And in our dreams we see Poetry dance on the manifesto’s grave, in the vocabulary of open-mindedness and eclecticism, that bourgeois humanism which is nothing other than the pure hatred of revolution.
The manifesto is obligated to be political at every instant.
To use the forms and worldviews on offer only for bitter mockery.
To be not an alternative to destruction but a complement.
To speak of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, the former as the enemy, the latter defined as the social class which does not want to be named.
To stop wringing its hands over poetry’s lost popularity, that autocritique more stirring than any Maoist’s.
The manifesto is obligated to say There are other countries where poetry still matters! Where the war against the marketplace of capital, against the confirmation of the bourgeoisie as the end of history, endures.
When we say the manifesto we mean poetry and Poetry and poets and our own pathetic selves.
And so like you, oh Poetry, we propose to reanimate the manifesto. We will first require the following things: a century of revolutions. Delight and terror. Shit on the curatorial. Shit on bankers and trusts. Shit on ourselves. We believe in art for art’s sake the same as we believe in destruction as our Beatrice; Mallarmé said them both. Poetry must be as violent and loving as the disease called history with which we infect each other, red and black condoms with the reservoirs cut off. Those who make a manifesto by halves dig their own graves.
Joshua Clover & Juliana Spahr on behalf of Hate Socialist Collective
Hate Socialist Collective is a loose international gathering of artist, theorists, and activists interested by the narrow channels of political thought on offer in much contemporary culture, amused by hysterical paralysis of liberalism, and dedicated to rejuvenating the ruthless critique of all that exists.