Twilight of the Swampoid

By Leutha Blissett, 12 February 2008
Image: Lee Galpin, Cardhead, detail

As database profiling of non/citizens grows increasingly pervasive and the dubious promise of 'techno-communism 2.0' haunts the blogosphere, real material differences will continue to sort the technologically ‘liberated’ from the dataslaves, declares Leutha Blissett


‘We’ are entering a period when human transactions are being industrialised, even the industrialisation of identity itself. What television did for the imagination, RFID can do for identity. Whereas the bourgeois subject was consolidated as a Sane White Adult Male Propertied Official Identity (SWAMPOID), which realised its tumescence in the transactional act, the purchase, the contract, the transaction from which women, non-Europeans, the insane, children were traditionally excluded, now technology is excavating this quintessence. The industrialisation of the transaction of things will soon overwhelm the SWAMPOID identity. The quantity of RFID transactions will bring about a qualitative change. The SWAMPOID identity has been a myth, even for those who are Sane, White, Adult, Male, and Propertied. For the rest it can only be the realisation of an alienated condition, sought-after as a goal in a ‘liberation’ which leaves the social conditions in which we live untouched while reproducing the psychological corollaries which haunt the mind of even the most avid critics.

This industrialisation offers the bourgeois imagination the myth of a ‘technocratic communism’, where dealing with those ‘in trade’ is handled by nanotechnology. But it simultaneously destroys the natural communism which arises through the human qualities of interaction. The book, like the brick and the bullet, were all parts of the technology which created the bourgeoisie, with their brick-walled towns garlanded with turrets prickled out with muskets, and internally pickled with mass-produced texts – each identical – flying off the printing press. (We trace a direct line from the Calvinists of Antwerp to the book-thumping Bolsheviks of the Third International.) Recently, media art and the fascination with new technologies of avant-gardists and Arts Council alike, has taken on an increasingly similar approach in its lack of critical engagement with form. Artists are content to simply reflect on formal changes. Political engagement is conceptualised as ‘activism’ which in effect is just an aesthetisation of politics – a staple of fascist ideology. In order to understand what is going on, and what has gone before, we need to be clear about what we are doing and attack mystical nonsense and confusionist theory as well as overt political reactionary and counter-revolutionary activity. A prime example is Bruce Sterling’s concept of ‘spime’ (space time) in which he defends a glutinated SWAMPOID Identity under the pseudo-innocent term ‘we’.


Hypergraphical experiments make it clear that three dimensions require another layer of interpretation. The tactic of the proto-fascists of vorticism was to compress many dimensions worth of information into this one extra-conceptual dimension. In this way they could make statements at a sub-conscious or subliminal level without having to engage in defending their political positions. However, the fourth dimensional viewpoint, whether as an ‘intuitive’ dimension or as a spatialised dimension of time (intellect), only served to shut down consciousness, precisely at the point when capitalism itself was under threat during the first world war. The intellect was dismissed as bourgeois – rooted in the mechanical universe so beautifully elucidated by Baron Kelvin. Intuition then became fetishised as a mystical device which rapidly turns in on itself, becoming an essential aid to remote control manipulation through codes and symbols, reaching its apogee as a sequence of 0’s and 1’s.


Contrary to occult manipulations, communist praxis is in fact open revolutionary praxis. This depends on constantly opening up new dimensions to human activities. Proletarian self-definition and self-defence is part of the seizing of all means of power. This includes the production and consumption of text from (the) letter to (the) number. For while the bourgeoisie claims the ownership and the benefit of resources, ultimately it is the proletariat which has the capacity to create and destroy. Situgraphy is but one praxis which has taken on bourgeois art’s manipulations, its de-humanisation and de-dimensional agenda. We aim to elaborate this in a full and conscious way.


Leutha Blissett <leutha AT> has been coming to terms with the effects of the Quantum Time Bomb for some little while now. In contemporary circumstances, he finds that the stateless topology of Alexander Grothendieck is proving more fruitful than remaining confined by the precepts of the Situationist International


Picture credits

All images by Lee Galpin