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<nettime> Class Wargames Communiquà #6
Richard Barbrook on Sat, 25 Jul 2009 07:55:51 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Class Wargames Communiquà #6

Communiquà #6: 25/07/09


In the legend of the founding of the Order of the Garter, medieval 
Englandâs most prestigious military order, Edward the Third plays 
Chess with the Countess of Salisbury. Queens, bishops, rooks, 
knights and pawns would decide this battle of the sexes. Edward 
Plantaganet staked a Kingâs ransom, in the form of a ruby, for the 
Countessâ virtue. Checkmate â the domination of one sex over another. 
How different is Debordâs game from its illustrious predecessor! This 
time around, the two players are loving comrades not rival aristocrats. 
In their book of The Game of War, Guy Debord and Alice Becker-Ho 
take on the roles of South and North. This illustrative contest is a marital 
affair: the tabletop becomes an erogenous zone where the inventor 
and his wife face each other in libidinous combat. Foreplay begins with 
Northâs fond caress of Southâs western arsenal, which soon succumbs 
to oblivion. Responding to this advance, South runs his cavalry up Northâs 
left flank, and then North invitingly shifts her balance eastwards. Seizing 
the initiative, South fondles the tip of Northâs mountain range before 
engaging in a penetrative action which comes tantalisingly close to 
entering Northâs central arsenal. But, in a sudden forward thrust, North 
counter-attacks, her forces enveloping South who â with one flank now 
fully exposed - lingers in a fort before retreating back into his own territory. 
Finally, experiencing the âlittle deathâ of surrender, Southâs army becomes 
flaccid and resigns â totally exhausted - from combat.

The King and the Situationist had one thing in common: they were both 
beaten in a wargame by a woman. Yet, for the Countess of Salisbury, her 
victory was as much her undoing as a defeat would have been: the jewel 
in her possession being taken as proof of the yielding of her honour. 
Edwardâs game of Chess was one of aristocratic domination, and led to 
the gesture of donning the Countessâ garter: the patriarchal symbol of the 
inner circle of the English elite to this day. In contrast, Aliceâs victory over 
her husband was a cause for mutual celebration. In their Situationist wargame, 
competitive play stimulated psychological intimacy between the sexes. 
Winning or losing were equally pleasurable experiences. In both stories, 
the woman defeats the man in a simulation of military combat. But it is only 
in the account of The Game of War that the vanquished gladly shows his 
respect for the vanquisher. When Guy and Alice moved their pieces across 
the board, playing at war was making love by other means. 

Their erotic, illustrative contest demonstrates how solidarity is one of the 
key principles embedded within the rules of The Game of War. An isolated 
unit is vulnerable, easily defeated in combat and always at risk of being 
outflanked. But a group of pieces that remain close together become 
comrades-in-arms, sharing their fighting abilities and supply networks 
with each other. By rewarding solidarity in its play, The Game of War acts 
as a tool of anti-militarisation in our revolutionary activities. It is the 
bourgeoisie who proclaimed the romantic general â Cromwell, Washington 
and Bonaparte - as the saviour of the nation. It is the bureaucracy who 
worshipped the man in uniform - Trotsky, Mao and Che â as the hero of 
the masses. The proletariat isnât going to make the same mistake. Our 
revolution wonât be militarised â it will be eroticised! 

Ludic Labour!



Saturday 25th July 2009
Plan 9
Bridewell Street
Bristol BS1


Tuesday 7.00-10.30pm
4th August
18th August
8th September

The FleaPit
49 Columbia Road
London E2 7RG


Wednesdays 5.00-5.30pm 
Resonance 104.4 FM


Saturday 1.00-6.00pm
26th September
participatory demonstration
(Marcel Duchamp meets Blue Peter)

Sunday 1.00-8.00pm
27th September
world premiere of Class Wargames video

HTTP Gallery
71 Ashfield Road
London N4 1NY

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