To be a Gerusian means to be terribly old. We belong to the council of elders by virtue of our experience. We grew up next to the river Eurotas, and we participated in brutal wars earning the right to sovereign decisions over life and death, beyond any responsibility. We are old, we could compete with Methuselah.
We adhere to a rich tradition of the history of philosophy which – from the time of Socrates, accused of spoiling the Athenian youth, up to Negri, il cattivo maestro, a very dangerous seducer of students – has declared that only an old person can be wise, whereas young people are but their victims. We repeat: we are all too old! Our cock hasn’t been erect for years, our tits have been saggy since time immemorial. We seduce only through conceptuality. Alcibiades can’t overcome our theoretical aura, college girls from Padua can’t resist the way we think – and especially susceptible are the Bologna-Reform students, so that our prime goal is to change them, to show them the possible alternatives. We shall certainly preserve our Spartan heritage, we are fully loyal to it: with asceticism we reject the imperative “Enjoy!”, with militancy of theory we wish to do harm to stupidity, with conceptual discipline we succeed in debasing conformism. To be a Gerusian means to be a guerilla, to be Geronimo.
Concepts are our weapons, we are prepared to use them as war machines.
“You are still young… and philosophy doesn’t completely hold sway over you.” – says Plato’s Parmenides to the young Socrates thus imparting to him an advice to get old soon because dialectics is not some toy for children. Similar to him, Hegel and Marx suggest, young people can not understand the most difficult principles of dialectics, the power of negation and the tension of contradiction; and because of that it is necessary to transform them: Becoming-old is the expansion of radical theories. Philosophy is essentially old! It does not want to be young, vibrant, buoyant, the place of enjoyment (the ideal place of neoliberalism), the place where the propagators of eternal youth are going to sell their expensive anti-wrinkles products … Philosophy is not replenishment, ecstasy, but endeavor and fatigue, that is – old age. Thought is completely wrinkled and it wishes it to be so! All those under our influence are becoming combatants. We are not gerontologists. We don’t study old age from the outside, we use all its advantages from the inside. We are old.
Old age is not a matter of biology, old age is the new subjectivity. Let us change subjectivity, let us become Gerusians! Age is of no importance, when it comes to being old. Being old requires courage!
We can't change the country. Let us change the subject.
In a society where knowledge is not commodity, where the market is not the measure of values, and the philosopher is not the manager of human resources, this kind of Gerusia perhaps wouldn’t have any reason to exist. The position we take without deviation is a result of the inexcusable position philosophy and theory are forced to limit themselves to. Radical thought is the answer. Therefore the Gerusian philosophy is the politics of inverting the world: born and raised as old men we begin our journey from old age and move toward youth. We move toward it by calling it to become old, to denounce the ideology of youth groups, youth politics, of the “young to whom the world belongs”, the “youth on the rise” and so on. We decisively reject all forms of youth activism, as well as young people as consumers, voluntary and happy slaves who boast their golden chains – every master’s intimate dream.
Our weapon, the politics of turning the world upside down, isn’t merely an extraction from an already produced concept, whose surplus would then become subjected to another system of value – to the same old one, just turned upside down. To twist and invert signifies a new movement, not the opposite direction of a constant movement, and certainly not the repetition, which would bring us back to the concept of “wonderful days of youth”, because the world of “wonderful days of youth” which they say we should live and enjoy, never existed. We were from time immemorial old men, burdened with centuries of brutal experience, and we must therefore ask ourselves: why would we deny ourselves those centuries in calculating our age? If we reject the contentment of denial, we shall remember our prehistory: predestination into a world we cannot taste, see or hear, but a world that still contains a brutal logic at work. To face this logic in deep old age is to consider that this is not the world of life, of those “wonderful days of youth”, but a world, which bears another name: production. To turn upside down therefore means: to turn the world of pan-fetishistic production of boulevards of commodities into the production of barricades of concepts! Let us learn to escape inertness, to keep still, but also to move. Let us submit ourselves to the new movement. Only this way we could experience a life which was supposedly promised to us and become incited to reject the masturbatory relationship with the simulacrum from low tier producers. And as children, when we shouted “we want the original one”, today we shall be old men of the original and new.
To be old means to be a Gerusian. Old age is Universality. Anyone can be old if he or she decides to take the theoretical weapon in their hands. Gerusia is the place from which one aims…
Gerusia is a Thing. Thingness. And all of us are becoming old and useless Things.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote a large book on old age. For her, old age is the special place because it “wonderfully reveals the system of exploitation in which we live”. We are aware how the state rejects unproductive workers, those who come into old age and who are not advantageous for production of surplus value anymore. We know how much care is given to pensioners, and what it looks like when a society abandons the social state. Old people are those not fit to enjoy. Therefore to be old means to be in an empty spot, and only in such a spot it is possible for something new to happen.
Old men of all countries – unite!
The fight for philosophy, joined with the fight for political emancipation rests on a principle of organization: the work of resolute workers (Lacan). We have opened an empty field where only work and philosophical discipline are allowed. Everybody can be part of this field and become anybody, if one accepts work as their discipline. Our subjectivity is the perpetual product of that work – resolute work to achieve precision and decency in ideas, a work on re-education and reinterpretation. We are aware that in the age of capitalist usurpation of work, such a postulate will be accused of futile and useless theorizing, as being abstract and unreal. But that which is unreal for the current logic of power, for us is exactly what is desirable; that is, the impossible and necessary place – the starting position in a war of position, in a long and painful march to philosophical and conceptual hegemony. The road along which our philosophical work advances is that of conquesting the common symbolic universe where new political and ethical horizons can be constructed.
Capitalism, the world of insensible sensibility, is an empire of real abstraction. Since capitalism is as such abstract (and exploitation is not of biological or personal character, it is foremost structural, thus, invisible and impersonal), struggle against it is only possible through theory. It is a bold statement: it concerns the first emancipatory undertaking that is necessarily ineffective without theory. Historically speaking, it can be said that until now anti-capitalist struggle has only been successful in pre-capitalist societies – it was successful only where a visible class existed along with visible domination conceived as the object of ressentiment, as a transparent enemy. The first challenge of activity is articulated in the question: how is it possible to act against the world of insensible sensibility?
In contemporary, internalized space of capital-world it is necessary to generate and map the points of exteriority. Is philosophy capable to take on the role of preparing the road for such a breakthrough, breach, intrusion, derailing and rupture? Could Nietzsche’s new barbarians which penetrate from the outside be philosophers?
Old age does not submit to the hypnotic flow of life and youth, it distances itself. An old person is a stranger!
Gerusia is Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt.
« The expansion of the anti-authoritarian field “ (R. Dutschke) is actualized today as indispensable; inside and outside the University. It is foremost a struggle against hierarchization and commercialization of knowledge, against bureaucratization of education – in short, contra the market model of the university. The act of subversion is directed against the principle of inequality that structures all segments of society, including the regime of schooling and education. Because of that the struggle for an Alter-University concerns the emancipation of the entire field of sociality, with all its contradictions. Politicization of these contradictions goes hand in hand with theoretical-philosophical consciousness increasing and awakening.
Old men were, old men are and old men shall be!
Today, as before, the form of the Manifesto is a form of resistance. It expresses the fidelity to the idea of truth and to the idea of program. Precisely its ostensible anachronism makes it effective. As Badiou says: every manifesto implies that “the time has come to say that…” Manifesto is an intervention in a given situation. To write a Gerusian Manifesto means to take a position in front of the situation in Novi Sad, the Western Balkans, Europe and the World.
The time has come to become old !