By John Zerzan
Nice-ism n. tendency, more or less socially codified, to approach reality in terms of whether others behave cordially; tyranny of decorum which disallows thinking or actingfor oneself; mode of interaction based upon the above absence of critical judgement or autonomy.
All of us prefer what is friendly, sincere, pleasant-nice. But in an immiserated world of pervasive and real crisis, which should be causing all of us to radically reassess everything, the nice can be the false.
The face of domination is often a smiling one, a cultured one. Auschwitz comes to mind, with its managers who enjoyed their Goethe and Mozart. Similarly, it was not evil-looking monsters who built the A-bomb but nice liberal intellectuals. Ditto regarding those who are computerizing life and those who in other ways are the mainstays of participation in this rotting order, just as it is the nice businessperson (self-managed or otherwise) who is the backbone of a cruel work-and-shop existence by concealing it's real horrors.
Cases of niceism include the peaceniks, whose ethic of niceness puts them-again and again and again-in stupid ritualized, no-win situations, those Earth First!ers who refuse to confront the thorouhly reprehensible ideology at the top of "their" organization, and Fifth Estate, whose highly important contributions now seem to be in danger of an eclipse by liberalism. All the single-issue causes, from ecologism to feminism, and all the militancy in their service, are only ways of evading the necessity of a qualitative break with more than just the excesses of the system.
The nice as the perfect enemy of tactical or analytical thinking: Be agreeable; don't let having radical ideas make waves in your personal behavior. Accept the pre-packaged methods and limits of the daily strangulation. Ingrained deference, the conditioned response to "play by the rules"-authority's rules-this is the real Fifth Column, the one within us.
In the context of a mauled social life that demands the drastic as a minimum response toward health, niceism becomes more and more infantile, conformist and dangerous. It cannot grant joy, only more routine and isolation. The pleasure of authenticity exists only against the grain of society. Niceism keeps us all in our places, confusedly reproducing all that we supposedly abhor. Let's stop being nice to this nightmare and all who would keep us in it.