Recreational Rebellion

“These individual and social miseries, however great and innumerable they may be, however eternal they appear, will vanish like hyenas and jackals at the approach of the lion, when the proletariat shall say “I will”. But to arrive at the realization of its strength the proletariat must trample under foot the prejudices of Christian ethics, economic ethics and free-thought ethics. It must return to its natural instincts, it must proclaim the Rights of Laziness, a thousand times more noble and more sacred than the anaemic Rights of Man concocted by the metaphysical lawyers of the bourgeois revolution. It must accustom itself to working but three hours a day, reserving the rest of the day and night for leisure and feasting.”

– Paul Lafargue, “The Right to be Lazy”

“The constant problem posed by the impossibility of being human without being a thing and of escaping the limits of things without returning to animal slumber receives the limited solution of the festival.”

-Georges Bataille, “Sacrifice, Festival, and the Principles of the Sacred World”


“Duty” is already the foundation of oppression, in that it is the active practice of “Culture” which is merely assumptions elevated to nonexistent purity. Whether it be Duty to Work, to Party, to Man, to Woman, to Identity, to Self, it is an oppression. Rebellion comes at the expense of Duty, even if it cannot be wholly evaded. This expense can be expressed through recreation, but we must remind ourselves that recreation does not automatically come at the expense of Duty. Festival, Carnival, these events can be made rebellious while, at the same time, remaining peaceful and engaging. They may uphold the possibility, the striving “to increase social wealth… to make wealth universal” [Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life] without simply demolishing infrastructures with a rage purely fueled by the “proletarian myth of the sadistic bourgeois, rotten to the marrow, consciously and strategically mendacious.” [Lefebvre] Such actions can only occur in a rebellious function when performed at the expense of the prevailing attitude of “Work.” Thus, festivals and recreational gatherings must occur during “work hours” and they cannot be sponsored by institutions. They should be non-exclusive, but not without expectations: nobody may be turned away until they give such behavior that demands they be turned away. This being said, it must also be remembered that the “peace” of such recreational gatherings is not exempt from its own madness: it demands excess, eroticism, the force of human nature; a kind of violence that comes at nobody’s expense. A violence of communal existence. Furthermore, such festivals require communal expenditures: individuals must provide obvious recreation such as food and drink, but to go further as rebellion more resources are required. Individuals must bring everything they can share: clothing, drugs, music, books, laptops, art, medicine. Events such as games, songs, and lessons should be performed indiscriminately and (ideally) should become as indistinguishable from one another as possible. Current technology and the emergence of digital recreation provides the opportunity for communal activities that take place over long distances and in homes. While too much “privacy” can detract from the shared nature of such a rebellion (and importantly reduces the opportunity to give resources to others) the choice to come together (even while abroad) to share an experience such as playing a game at the expense of work is still rebellious in its own right. Recreational rebellion must acknowledge its temporary nature – it is not Universal in its function, it works towards an end. But, it must be said, the end cannot merely be a break or some respite. Such a mindset retracts from the function of such a rebellion, it no longer sees itself as a stance against the problem of work. Where there is a need to strike, to remove onesself from working, there is an opportunity to open up towards community. Rather than strive towards seriousness, with the uselessness of picket signs and marches, we have the opportunity to actually live.

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