[NetBehaviour] CLASS WARGAMES: Performance & Communiqué #5.

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Fri Jul 24 14:39:49 CEST 2009

CLASS WARGAMES: Performance & Communiqué #5.


Saturday 25th July 2009
Plan 9
Bridewell Street
Bristol BS1

CLASS WARGAMES: Communiqué #5: 25/07/09

In the legend of the founding of the Order of the Garter, medieval
England’s 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
King’s ransom, in the form of a ruby, for the Countess’ virtue.
Checkmate – the domination of one sex over another. How different is
Debord’s 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 North’s fond
caress of South’s western arsenal, which soon succumbs to oblivion.
Responding to this advance, South runs his cavalry up North’s left
flank, and then North invitingly shifts her balance eastwards. Seizing
the initiative, South fondles the tip of North’s mountain range before
engaging in a penetrative action which comes tantalisingly close to
entering North’s central arsenal. But, in a sudden forward thrust, North
counter-attacks, her forces enveloping South who – with one flank now
fully exposed - lingers in a fort before retreating back into his own
territory. Finally, experiencing the ‘little death’ of surrender,
South’s army becomes flaccid and resigns – 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.
Edward’s game of Chess was one of aristocratic domination, and led to
the gesture of donning the Countess’ garter: the patriarchal symbol of
the inner circle of the English elite to this day. In contrast, Alice’s
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 – Cromwell, Washington and Bonaparte - as the saviour
of the nation. It is the bureaucracy who worshipped the man in uniform -
Trotsky, Mao and Che – as the hero of the masses. The proletariat isn’t
going to make the same mistake. Our revolution won’t be militarised – it
will be eroticised!

Ludic Labour!

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