Art exists only in an enslaved society like ours. In a free society “art” exists neither as an undersupplied commodity nor as spiritual edification. Art is as omnipresent and natural as the grass and trees, which grows wherever there is water.
The attainment of this goal is the artist’s holy commitment. He alone possesses a sure instinct for the coming disaster. And so he simply cannot keep still as he watches the society in which he lives, sink into subjugation.
It is disgusting to see what is understood as freedom now. When you stroll through the city you get the feeling that you are walking through a prison: ruler-edged windows, ruler-edged buildings, the people as identical as if they wore prison uniforms. It is a self-made prison. What the people now take to mean freedom is no longer a jail which they are forced into but rather one which they themselves obediently enter. For they have already learned the taboos and prohibitions by heart.
It is simply revolting: where is freedom? What’s even worse: the people do not want it. Horizontal and vertical tears of mankind on which the sun falls like a shadow.
Blush with shame at mass destiny, cry out at mass existence. Lay down on the pavement: not according to plan but rather only those who feel the need; let the raindrops fall in your face and count them as they strike you. And the sidewalk won’t be grey anymore.
Shed the old and dress up in beautiful clothes; clothes that suit you, clothes that have their seams on the outside, clothes that make you strong.Live in housing that you make yourselves and you’ll be happy, and the sidewalk won’t be grey anymore. And grow trees on the roof, huge trees, century-old trees, and the ugly match-box houses won’t be match-boxes anymore. Cause you’ll be able to stroll on the roof as if walking through the Vienna Woods, and the green will have no end.
A new urge for freedom will be born, no longer the need to keep up with the Joneses (which has been the basis for all the revolutions, capitalist and communist alike, until now). It is this urge to have what the neighbours have that leads exactly where nobody wanted to go: namely into misery, endless misery, into horror. And the misery of uniformity which is at first to be smiled at, then becomes burdensome and finally becomes unendurable, intolerable. And this misery will be boundless. And even for the little man it will eventually become more unbearable than the torment of hunger, poverty and cold could ever be.
Soon the doctors and scientists and intelligent people will equate this new penury with murder since this is how it begins: when the European looks like the Oriental; when the Japanese looks like the French, when the airport in Nairobi looks like the airport in Alaska, when apples taste like plums and meat like cheese, when you cannot tell the difference between different systems in politics and governments, when material and the houses that are built with it are the same all over the world, shaped the same and produced in the same steps.
And then the new freedom revolution will come: a man will want to be different from his neighbour, will want to travel in a different vehicle, will want to have his outside wall and window another size, another height, another shape and made out of different material than his neighbour’s. He will refuse to move into a building or live for a minute longer than necessary in a building which has a number of apartments exactly alike one on top of the other and side by side. He will even refuse to go down a street lined by buildings with ruler-edged facades or symmetrical windows.
Freedom without happiness is no freedom. Man can’t be happy without independent, creative activity. Whoever carries out plans programmed in advance by a superior is unhappy, has to be unhappy, can never be happy. Individual happiness is based on individual differences, on distinctive traits in people. It is not based on similarities. Similarity brings death. Equality leads to nothingness, it leads to totalitarianism, it leads to prison, it leads to limitless subjugation. Only he who is conscious of himself, only he who takes the time to get know himself, only he can free himself.
Work does not bring freedom, it brings slavery. Because the way people work today they do not work for their happiness but rather they work for their unhappiness. Everyone who works, everyone who at one time or another does not work (for example after working hours, on Sunday, or on vacation) is horrified when he sees, if he can see at all, what he has worked for – and then tries to anaesthetize himself or go back to work – which amounts to the same thing. Why think when you work? Why look at the products of your work, the mass products?
It is not technological miracles which are the result of work, it is mass-produced goods, it is tools of subjugation. You work. When you work you do not know what you are working for. You work on parts. You do not know what purpose the parts serve (you know but you do not know directly) so you do not know, and the man, who puts the parts together, does not know either. Nobody knows it because they have no love for these things which they make “en masse” or for the things which they put together since the things are all exactly alike.
You can only love things which are different form other things. A mother loves her child because he is different, because he is missing a tooth, or because he has got a crippled toe, or because he has freckles that the neighbour’s child does not have. Besides the neighbour’s child was born either earlier or later, somewhere else, or moves differently: you can love that. But you cannot love the products which are produced by workers who forced to make them on an assembly line. If the individual building stones are not laid with love then the whole structure can never become something worth loving.
If it is a house then it is a house of torture, a mad house, a clinic, a house of murderers. And I can prove this: in the newly built areas made piece by piece on assembly lines the suicide rate is appealingly high. And it is the women, not the men, who kill themselves because it is the women who have to stay in these horrible constructions, these constructions now being built whether it be by the municipality or private enterprise.
The causes of these suicides, the terrifying increase in mental illness and juvenile delinquency have to lie in degradation, in slavery, in the municipal buildings because these ghastly structures prevail in the outskirts of the city. For, in addition to the usual suppression suffered in the form of ordinances, new restrictions are compounding the old and subjugating everyone who moves into a new apartment. For example he cannot even decorate the outside of his apartment by himself. Only the artist who was includes in the planning of some little corner in the wall during the construction of the complex can do that.
Nobody is allowed to paint, stick, scratch, or engrave anything on or off any little corner even if it is beautiful, even if it does not endanger the stability of the building. Nobody is allowed to paint his window panes outside and inside red and yellow if the planned colour is white. Nobody is allowed to substitute coloured glass in his windows even within his apartment because the regulation glass is clear. Nobody is allowed to increase or decrease his window space even at his own expense because the symmetry has been predetermined and cannot be personalized. A window like that would be out of place, would catch the eye.
Do not be afraid to show yourselves as you really are. Have no fear that you will seem somewhat laughable because you never will. Never when you show what you are really like.Because: only the one who imitates what everyone else does like an ape, who, likes an ape, does what one tells him to although he cannot comprehend it, cannot understand it, although it goes against his nature, as when you dress a monkey in trousers, a cap, shoes and ribbons. That is the way you are when you wear ready-made clothes, even when you pick them out according to sizes: sizes for men and sizes for women. You should be ashamed!
Every human organism dies off if he eats only meat or only honey, or only beets. Our human society will end in just such misery if it only consumes consumer goods. What is a mass-produced product? Nothing, absolutely nothing. It indeed serves some purpose or the other but it is a dead object. It does not begin to live, until the refrigerator gets a crack in it. Then you know: that is my refrigerator, my dress, my spoon. You did not know it up until then. So let us do away with this false worship of mass-produced material goods.
Destroy them or rather do not since they are good for something – but stop worshipping such junk. Something of which there are a thousand just like it is not worth any tribute. Rather when you buy something like that step on it first – or when you buy a dress cut right into it and trace out a hole or do something to distinguish it from the other clothing articles in the same series. Do not just put your name in it, but rather something more radical, more meaningful. And when you have done that you have won back a great deal of freedom. The last revolution was for freedom exploitation, from hunger, from poverty. And – here – it has been successful. The new revolution is for freedom from systematic annihilation of humanity, freedom form the assembly line that leads to death.